“A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” (Prov 14:30)
In this modern age, life moves at a fast pace and can be fairly stressful. We often say, “I’m stressed out!” Physical stress and fatigue are easier to manage. A good night sleep usually helps. It is the emotional stress that keeps us restless throughout the night. Emotional stress comes from our negative feelings: anger, worry, fear, jealousy, and sorrow. Emotional stress can be destructive with the consequences of: broken relationships, physical illnesses, the inability to keep a job or to work with others, and violence.
Stress is a part of life. Stress becomes anxiety when stress gets inside us. Anxiety can dominate our lives, steal our joy, and cripple our ability to function. A calm heart, a heart at peace, is thus precious. By maintaining a calm heart, we are spared the many illnesses that are often stress related. In addition to improved health, our relationships with others will also benefit. Plus, it is very precious in the sight of God (1 Pet 3:4).
Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever. (Ps 131:1-3)
David, the psalmist, no longer felt torn apart by his inner struggle and turmoil. He used the metaphor of a weaned child with his mother to describe his inner peace. A child that is weaned has overcome the fragile stage of infancy and is now content with the delights of solid food. How did David acquire a calmed soul? Humility and hope in God. It gives us a model for pursuing a calm heart.
Pride makes us restless because it makes us dissatisfied with what we have. In contrast, humility allows us to be content with God’s leading in our lives. We need to learn to acknowledge our limits and not to be haughty in our hearts. When there are too many things to do with insufficient time, we have to accept that we can’t do everything. We need to prioritize, delegate, and/or let some things go.
When stress comes and things are beyond our control, we need to put hope in God. Prayer can release our tension in times of emotional stress. We can pray by asking God for what we need, and thanking Him for His provisions and past blessings. Meditation on scriptures strengthens our faith and our trust in God that He can help us. May God give us a calm heart.