Having a plan in place for life’s challenges is one of the keys to avoid emotional problems in life. Most of the counseling work I do with people is related to a reaction to problems encountered. Since we can’t change the past, I often point people in the direction of understanding what has happened to them and learning to prepare for future events when they happen. Proper stress management is more about preparing for future stress, not finding ways to avoid it.
It would be hard to imagine that a person could have success in any occupational environment without the right kind of preparation and training. Athletes need plenty of practice time and experience to achieve high levels of success. A business professional needs a college education and on-the-job training to be able to have the confidence to perform. Soldiers go through vigorous training, both mental and physical, to prepare them for challenges. Can you imagine a soldier going to battle without the proper training and protection? Sadly, most people fumble through their life problems (relationships, addictions, bad habits, moodiness) without much of a plan in place for how to fix it.
In the book of Ephesians 6:10-18, there is an outline of a plan for everyone’s lives when dealing with stress, temptation, and evil. This section of the Bible is referred to as the Armor of God. When a person wakes up each day they should see themselves as putting on the protective gear described in this passage.
- Belt of Truth – (verse 14) God is truth and Satan is considered the father of lies. Most mental health and spiritual health problems are related to believing lies and irrational thoughts. The belt of truth reminds us how much we need to be discerning about the lies we believe about God, others, and ourselves. Also, it is a good reminder how important it is for us to be truthful in our words, deeds, and actions.
- Breastplate of Righteousness – (verse 14) A breastplate of armor was important in guarding a soldiers heart and vital organs from vulnerable attacks. In a Christian’s life, God’s righteousness is what keeps them protected and safe. Each day a person needs to feel secure in their trust and faith in God to protect their hearts and minds.
- Shoes – (verse 15) In life, we have to prepare that we will have to learn to sidestep and avoid obstacles as we advance down a path we choose. It’s not about running away from challenges, but instead learning to run past them towards our goals.
- Shield of Faith – (verse 16) Attacks come in all varieties. Some people struggle with attacks from other people while others struggle with internal attacks in how they think and believe. A person has to avoid having any doubts when it comes to their faith in Christ, regardless of how bad their circumstances may seem. Doubt in Christ and doubt in self is a dangerous spiral that can lead a person on a path of despair and depression.
- Helmet of Salvation – (verse 17) Our brain is the processing unit that runs the rest of our body. When the brain is suffering, the rest of the body will suffer too. A person has to spend their day filtering out negative and untrue thoughts/beliefs through the use of prayer, self-evaluation, and discussion with others whom you trust.
- Sword of the Spirit – (verse 17) All of the other items mentioned above are used to help defend the mind and body from attacks. But, the sword of the spirit is the one item that can be used for defense and offense. This speaks to the amazing effect that God’s word in the Bible can have for others and us. When dealing with interpersonal problems or problems with others, God’s word becomes effective and more than sufficient.