“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
“I come to You in the morning, oh Lord, I lay my requests before You, and I wait in expectation.” (Psalm 5:3)
Stress is unhealthy- for the mind, the body and the spirit. Scientists and physicians have been arguing this fact for years. It is why God requires all His people to take a day of rest each week. It is why Jesus tells His followers to come to Him to receive rest for our minds, bodies and souls. Stress, and the negative emotions that accompany it, should be avoided at all costs for anyone who desires to live a full, long, healthy life.
I read recently that negative emotions in a pregnant woman (stress, frustration, anger, bitterness, sadness, etc) release catecholamines into the body, which are essentially the body’s “fight or flight” hormones. These stress hormones signal the body to go into distress/survival mode, and blood is then diverted away from the less important body parts (e.g., the uterus) to the vital organs, such as the brain and heart. Less blood to the uterus means less blood and oxygen to the baby. So stress and negative emotions during pregnancy can actually have detrimental effects on the development- particularly brain development- of the unborn child. Prolonged stress can even lead to miscarriage or premature labor.
Similarly, stress in a laboring woman can divert blood and oxygen away from the baby, causing fetal distress, an emergency situation that usually leads to a surgical birth. This is one of the many reasons why women are so strongly encouraged to practice relaxation techniques during pregnancy to use during labor. Our bodies, and our babies, do best when not under stress.
I see now why my God has been teaching me about the importance of rest as I continue on through this pregnancy. My loving Father created my body and my mind and my spirit, and He knows what I need so much better than I do. So slowly, gently, He has been leading me to walk in peace and joy, to trust in Him, and to rejoice in hope.
But hope, I am finding, is not a one-time decision. It is not something we grasp once and then easily hold onto from then on. Hope in Christ is a daily choice that must be fought for- at times more forcefully than others.