According to the American Institute of Stress, stress-related illnesses cost the US economy $300 billion in medical bills and lost productivity every year. Forty-four percent of Americans feel more stress than they did 5 years ago. Family relationships, job-related challenges, and even academic studies are a few stressors that weigh citizens down.

The believers in Ephesus were dealing with stress, but it was related to their faith in Jesus. Instead of offering human-engineered ways to chill and feel more relaxed, John pointed them to God and His resources.

The apostle was writing to a group of believers who were being socially ostracized and physically brutalized. Every day they lived with the stress of choosing Christ or losing their jobs and even their lives. Instead of giving in to the temptation of cowering under the pressure, they remained faithful to Jesus. What was their secret to dealing with the constant stress of being persecuted? Knowing that God was their heavenly Father, they found security in His love and knowing that they were “a child of God” (1 John 5:1).

They also found freedom in lovingly and joyfully obeying Jesus. In doing so, they weren’t defeated by the world’s hostility or compelled by it to turn from Christ (1 John 5:4). Because Jesus had already conquered the world, His followers could walk in that victory, casting all their anxieties on Him and finding His peace even in the midst of stress.

Peace is possible as we remember Jesus’ words, receive His love, and walk obediently in the victory He’s provided. His presence can cheer our souls, making it possible for us to experience freedom when stress comes calling.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Nehemiah 5:1-19