KEY 3: SEEK WISE COUNSEL
The book of Proverbs contains some of the greatest and wisest counsel available to us as Christians—counsel from God Himself. God Almighty tells us: “Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice” (Proverbs 8:14–15).
Your Bible gives wise counsel. I appreciate the practice of reading one of the 31 chapters of Proverbs each day of the month. Proverbs is filled with fresh wisdom that will take on new meaning and relevance as your circumstances change from day to day, month to month and year to year.
How valuable is the book of Proverbs? God inspired the book of Proverbs with this encouraging introduction: “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—a wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel, to understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:1–7).
Are you willing to seek counsel to help face your stresses and challenges? Here is a verse from Proverbs that gives us wisdom: “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). And consider one more admonition: “Listen to counsel and receive instruction, that you may be wise in your latter days. There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand” (Proverbs 19:20–21).
When you read the book of Acts, you find that the early New Testament Church was unified as a spiritual family. We need one another, and we need one another’s help. Seek counsel from those who have true wisdom; long-time faithful and genuine Christians who have strong biblically based character. “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise” (Proverbs 12:15).
Seek God’s counsel by reading your Bible every day, and seek out wise counsellors who have demonstrated stability and biblically based character.
KEY 4: DO NOT NEGLECT PHYSICAL EXERCISE
Hundreds, if not thousands of health reports and studies show the benefit of physical exercise as a tool for reducing stress. Years ago, I wrote in my personal book of life-lessons, “When depressed, go out and jog or run.”
The Mayo Clinic gives this advice: “Exercise in almost any form can act as a stress reliever. Being active can boost your feel-good endorphins and distract you from daily worries.… If you’re not an athlete or even if you’re out of shape, you can still make a little exercise go a long way toward stress management. Discover the connection between exercise and stress relief—and why exercise should be part of your stress management plan” (“Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress,” MayoClinic.org, 2016).
For those of us in our senior years, walking can be one of the best exercises. No, we may not be able to walk at the same pace as when we were 50 years younger, but we should do what we can within our limits. I was personally inspired last year when I learned that a 92-year-old lady who lives near our Charlotte office had set a world record as the oldest woman ever to complete a marathon. Her finishing time of 7:24:36 may not have been so impressive to the runners 70 years her junior, but her example should remind us to prod ourselves to do what we can.
This is even a biblical principle. The Apostle Paul, in making a larger spiritual point, nevertheless praised the value of physical exercise when he wrote: “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Spiritual exercise will lead to eternal benefit, but we should not neglect the temporal benefit of physical exercise.