The Gift of Tension

While technology and advancements have made life much easier today than past generations, most people will agree it’s also added greatly to our daily stress levels. The ability to do more in less time has just resulted in our filling spare time with more responsibilities.

Adding to already busy schedules will eventually result in problems we cannot take care of on our own. This usually brings intense stress, or tension

When tension comes into our lives we have three options

  1. Ignore the rising stress levels and act as if everythings okay when it really isn’t
  2. Blow up in frustration and attack everyone else (blaming them for the tension)
  3. Or my personal favorite, medicate your stress with Pepsi and baked goods

Each of these responses in it’s own way tries to escape the tension [1]. This isn’t abnormal since dealing with a high level of stress is incredibly difficult.

But maybe we have it all wrong
Maybe instead of running from tension we should view it as a gift

Last Monday I read “letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr Martin Luther King. In this letter he defended his choice to be a part of peaceful protests, and made a very interesting statement.

”I must confess that I am not afraid of the word ‘tension’. There is a type of nonviolent tension necessary for growth”

The tension Dr. King refers to here is brought on by protests against racial injustice. There were quite a few people who criticised his work in Alabama because of the huge amounts of stress that it put on people (reminding them of racial inequality).

Instead of apologizing for the tension (which they probably expected) Dr. King pointed out there was most definitely a need for tension…this was the only way change would truly come.

This thought shows us a very important truth.

There is such a thing as “good tension,” when we face massive amounts of stress while doing the right thing. And in those situations like Martin Luther King, we can rest in the fact that true change will come from our suffering.

For me this tension is about returning to Melbourne which involves lots of money, time, paperwork, and yes patience. To be honest there are sleepless hours when I’m tempted to give up on returning because it’s just too hard. Yet in those moments the Lord reminds me tension isn’t always a curse.

Sometimes it’s what God uses to show we are following Him.


  1. by ignoring it, blame others for your pain, escape it for a short time  ↩

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