Are you a stressed out mom looking for encouragement? While the Bible doesn’t talk about “stress” explicitly in the way we think of it, there is nonetheless quite a lot the Scriptures say about how to respond. I hope these verses help!
When my daughter was about 6 months old, I remember one day when I was carrying her on my hip. I had my phone balanced between my ear and my shoulder and was trying to sort laundry while I talked, while my 2- and 4-year-old boys were wreaking having who-knows-where in our admittedly cluttered house.
And then it happened.
My back didn’t exactly give out, but it started throbbing painfully near the shoulders. I thought perhaps I had pulled a muscle and was forced to rest.
I felt useless. I could hardly lift my infant daughter, nor could I carry out some of my daily responsibilities like cooking and cleaning. After a few days, I decided to get some help.
But after many months and appointments with a physician, chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists, it didn’t get much better.
It was frustrating to discover that this was a chronic problem. It seemed like it would never go away.
There were a few physical changes I made that helped, including getting serious about strength training and working on my flexibility. But it wasn’t until I started taking a look at my emotional state that things really started to get better.
I was stressed out. Constantly.
My hands were full in every sense of the word. In addition to my responsibilities as a mom of three young kids, I was taking on my than I could handle with work and volunteer opportunities. I was also lonely and grieving loss—my two closest friends and my sister moved away within a couple years of each other. And deep down, I was resenting my role in motherhood.
I thought that breaking down crying once a week or so was the norm. (It’s not.)
I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. And I think it broke them.
Unhealthy stress does weird things to our bodies. For me, it manifested in painful knots in my upper back. For others, it can reveal itself in panic attacks, rashes, insomnia, high blood pressure, cysts…In fact, if anything strange is happening to you, you might want to consider stress as a cause.
Now, 5 years later, I can say I rarely have my telltale back pain. I’ve learned a ton about managing stress biblically, and I’m passionate about sharing it.
I know that many of my readers love my Mama Verses scripture lists, so it made sense to put one together on stress.
While I completely believe in the power of the Word of God to transform our hearts, these verses for stressed out moms are just the beginning. If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired from the stress in your life, I encourage you to sign up for my email list so you can check out my video series, Take a Deep Breath.
On Understanding Stress
While the Bible doesn’t talk about “stress” explicitly, do you know what it does talk about? Suffering. Stress is our biological response to the things we care about that happen in our lives. In other words, stress is our natural response to suffering.
Keep that in mind with the following verses:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I think it’s important to consider that stress is not all bad. It helps us grow and mature through our trials. You’re not going to avoid it. So embrace it.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
The same sentiment is here. (By the way, if you’ve seen any of my other Bible verse lists, you might notice there are some repeats here! They mean that much to me!)
On Surrendering What We Can’t Control
When I think about the things that cause stress, many of them are out of my control! No matter how much I put my worry and anxiety on repeat in my mind, there’s nothing I can actually do about them.
That’s why one of the critical healthy responses to stress is learning how to give to God what is God’s.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Short, sweet and simple, right? Sort of…because this is easier said than done. When I think of the word “casting,” I think of my boys trying to cast their fishing lines. This is a skill that takes lots and lots of practice. But you’ll never get it if you don’t keep trying.
‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’
Many of us know these words of Jesus so well, and yet we need to be reminded again and again. Again, surrendering our worries and anxieties takes lifelong practice.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
There are a few more practical tools here that go hand in hand with casting our anxieties on the Lord: practicing gratitude. Rejoicing. Lots and lots of prayer. These are the disciplines that bring the peace that transcends understanding.
On Taking Action
Surrendering our fears and worries to God is one part of the equation, but we also have a responsibility to take action for the things we can control.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
At the end of his life, Moses reminded God’s people that they had choices in life. Whatever happened, they could choose to love God, listen to him and follow his commands, or not.
Whatever our circumstances, we are presented with the same choice. Even under stress, we can choose to grow and to learn and walk the hard path that God’s way often is, or we can succumb to fear and victimhood.
What this looks like practically can vary quite a bit. Personally, in response to my own stressors, I’ve had to be more intentional about the way I spend my time. I’ve had to choose rest over productivity. I’ve had to reach out for help when I was lonely. God did his part, so I had to try to do mine.
1 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Sometimes my feelings of stress are a result of my own negative thoughts that aren’t true! With the Holy Spirit’s help, we have the ability to change the way we think. It’s a process we participate in actively, by identifying the thoughts that aren’t true and replacing them with the word of God.
On Seeing the Big Picture
Lastly, it helps me to remember that there’s typically more going on spiritually than I am aware of.
1 Peter 5:8–9
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
The apostle Peter reminds us not to be off guard. It’s so easy to forget in the midst of our stress that we have a lion-like enemy out there, who is trying to exploit our weaknesses. The call is to recognize him, and resist him.
‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
Jesus said this to prepare his disciples for the suffering and stress they would have to endure. For me it’s a great reminder to step back and look at the big picture. In light of eternity and the power of the cross, we can take heart.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
I’ll leave you with Paul’s appeal to hang in there and keep fighting, through it all. You’ve got this, because you have a great God who is fighting for you, my friend.
There’s so much more I have to say about dealing with stress in a biblical way! If this post stirs you, be sure to sign up for my email list so you can catch my popular video series, Take a Deep Breath.