Our reactions to the trials and stressors of our life are a key determinant of our emotional and physical health. It’s not the events or the relationship issues that have a detrimental impact on our health, it’s our interpretation and perception of them.In most days of our lives, we find ourselves in situations that can impact us in either a negative or a positive way. First, the event or circumstance occurs. This is generally quickly followed by the emotions that we experience. Then, typically, we react with our behavior and what we say. Our reactions are most often automatic because we do this out of habit. Our reactions will have either a positive or a negative impact on our body based, based on the accompanying emotions we experience.

We have an opportunity to impact our emotions and corresponding reactions by the thoughts that we have right after the experience or the event. With practice, we can train ourselves to think positively as opposed to negatively. We can choose to ask the Holy Spirit to control our thoughts, emotions and our reactions. This is the type of wisdom that James speaks of in James 1:2-8.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:2-8

Awareness of your thoughts and reactions is key to changing how you respond to stressors and trials. If you make a choice deep in your will to become more aware of how you respond to events in your life, you’ll be able to make changes with the help of the Holy Spirit. Changed responses will help you to become more like Christ and therefore your light will shine brighter. Learning to respond differently can also impact your health. Instead of your system releasing unhealthy chemicals into your body because of the toxic emotions you experience, the healthy chemicals that are released with your positive emotions will promote health.

It’s all about perspective. I urge you to look at your trials and potential life stressors as opportunities for spiritual growth. If you can have this mindset, it will change your life. And, God will be glorified as you credit His Spirit for helping you make this change.

Questions to Reflect On

What is your level of awareness of your thoughts that immediately follow stressful occurrences? Are your negative emotions and the corresponding physical reactions in your body impacting negatively on your health?