Today I’m reposting an article I wrote two years ago with a message that bears repeating! It’s all about the hidden benefit and stress reliever of love! And who doesn’t need to relieve stress at this time of year? I know I sure do! Read more to find out how to apply this stress reliever to your life!
Have you ever noticed that when you feel unloved you also feel incredibly stressed? And notice that when you give and receive love it calms you like no other stress-reducer can?
Even though Christmas is all about “love”—celebrating the birth of “Love” in the form of a babe in a manger—ultimately this time of year can feel like one of the loneliest and most stressful times of all.
This is especially true for those who are in heartbreaking and desperate marriages!
Sadly, we’re not always able to change how our spouse feels about us, but we do have the power to change the stress we feel by loving those who are in desperate need of our love.
Certainly, the Bible tells us to love ALL people. But it also directs us to show love and comfort to a specific group of people—those who suffer.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” —2 Cor. 1:3-5
When we love and show compassion like this, our stress level improves because …
- It feels good to love and bless others who are in need and hurting.
- We feel loved in return because others almost always show gratitude for the gift of love we’ve offered them.
- We feel God’s approval and delight in our choice to show love like He did and does for you and me!
I have been taking my inspiration for this series, Loving Strong through Holiday Stress, from a Bible study I’ve been doing called, “6 Shades of Love.” (You can catch a preview of this day’s notes here).*
My notes from this study are based on this important passage, penned by the Apostle Paul to the Philippian believers …
“It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.” —Philippians 1:7-8
Isn’t that the most lovely and affectionate message from the Apostle Paul? Melts my heart to read it every single time!
The reason I think it bursts off the page is because Paul truly and deeply loved these brothers and sisters in Christ. And he loved them not just because God commanded him to love them! He also loved them because of the constant love they showed him during his difficult missionary journeys and especially while he sat in prison awaiting execution!
I know the affectionate and faithful acts of these believers encouraged Paul—lessening the stress he felt because they loved him in word and deed. And I’m certain that the Philippians’ stress was relieved as well when they read and received Paul’s affectionate affirmations and words of thanks back to them.
So instead of …
- Drowning in the discouragement of our messy marriages and discouraging lives.
- Feeling overwhelmed by the multitude of “holiday to-dos.”
- Focusing far too much on the “stuff of this season” when we should be focusing on the “reason for the season” . . .
I don’t know what that might look like for you …
- Perhaps it’s making time to spiritually and emotionally encourage a discouraged believer in their faith and/or life.
- It could also be buying some presents/food for a believing family that can’t afford much.
- Maybe it’s financially supporting a missionary family.
- Another way might be to offer support to a Christian charitable organization.
If you don’t know where to start, consider these opportunities …
1. Samaritan’s Purse meets all sorts of needs, like: Operation Christmas Child, International Crisis Response, Feeding Programs, Health and Medical Ministries, Discipleship, Education and Training Ministries, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, just to name a few.
2. If you’re interested in helping those “who are in chains,” like the Apostle Paul was, then check out: Prison Fellowship Ministry.
3. Interested in sponsoring a child? There are a variety of ways to do this at Compassion International. My hubby and I have sponsored Marianna from El Salvador for 7 years now. Our only regret is not doing this sooner!
4. Many of you know Bev Rihtarchik of Walking Well with God. She helped to found Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc., where you can sponsor a child for just $15/month. This price hasn’t increased since I posted this article two years ago! And it will provide Christian education to impoverished children in Pakistan. You can find out more about how all of this works here.
*I was going through the “6 Shades of Love” two years ago. But now have my most recent Bible study that examines the story of Christ’s birth from Luke’s gospel available to purchase! In fact, it’s on sale now through Dec. 20th for just $5.99, down from its original price of $6.99. Be sure to grab your copy on Amazon before the price goes back up! Merry Christmas, my friends!
When has love given or received relieved you of stress in your life?
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