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St Joseph & How Christians Can Deal With Stress

If you're feeling stressed, look to the example of St Joseph, a great example of how to deal with responsibility and a multitude of tasks.

Joseph was a carpenter from Nazareth in Galilee (Mt 13:55). He was not wealthy, although he descended from King David (Mt 1:1-16; see Saint 1.24). Joseph loved Mary so much that he was prepared to silently separate from her when he heard she was pregnant without his involvement (Mt 1:19). Another in his place might have denounced her, with the result of her being stoned as an adulteress. After Joseph had thus demonstrated his compassionate character, he had a dream while he was sleeping. An angel told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, and to accept her child as his own, because the child came from God and not from a man (Mt 1:20-21). Thus Joseph became Jesus’s foster father. He must have died young, for he is not mentioned in Jesus’s later life.


Joseph had a lot on his plate. And so do you! ‘I want so much in my life; there is always more work than I can finish!’ ‘I am worried about the outcome of…’ ‘I am afraid that something will happen to…’ Do such thoughts sound familiar? Anxiety and stress are part of the life of most people. But there is no need for this at all! Ultimately, God is in charge, not you. You can only do so much.

Allegedly it was saint Ignatius who said that we have to work as if everything depends on us, but to pray as if everything depends on God. That summarises perfectly the attitude that we should have as Christians. It is very healthy to lay the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of your work in the hands of God. He is the Boss! Yes, he depends on you to apply your mind, your heart and your hands to your tasks, and to do so with all you can give. However, he does not ask more from you than that.


Saint Joseph is a great example of how to deal with responsibility and a multitude of tasks. Did you notice what he did in probably the most stressful moment of his life, when his loved and trusted bride to be seemed to have betrayed him and all his world was crumbling down? He went to sleep, trusting God! Precisely by going to sleep he made it possible for God to act (in his case through a dream). Jesus spoke of a farmer casting seeds: the seed sprouts and grows while he sleeps (Mk 4:26-29). Often, our stress is making it more difficult for God to help us, as we stand in the way and do not listen!


God knows you need your rest, and just before going to sleep you may entrust everything you worry about into his hands. But what if you cannot sleep because you are too stressed? Here are a few tips.

  • First, pray and communicate. Tell God about your worries, asking for his help. Speak to someone like a friend or teacher, and write down all your worries and tasks.
  • Second, prioritise: order the list in order of importance, so that you can get at least the essential things done.
  • Third, ask help from others and learn to say ‘no’: you can only do so much by yourself.
  • Fourth, go to sleep. The next day you can take a brief moment of prayer for God’s help and review your priorities. Then get started, beginning with what is most important.
  • Fifth, work hard, but leave the rest in God’s hands. If you make your relationship with him your top priority, you will find that eventually you have time for all the things that really matter. Resolve to leave the outcome in his hands. And ask Saint Joseph to pray for you. Can you believe that this will change your life?

O God, Joseph knew how stressful I sometimes let my life become. Help me leave all my worries in your hands and concentrate on the essential alone. Saint Joseph, pray for us!

‘I have great love for Saint Joseph, because he is a man of silence and strength. On my table I have an image of Saint Joseph sleeping. Even when he is asleep, he is taking care of the Church! Yes! We know that he can do that. So when I have a problem, a difficulty, I write a little note and I put it underneath Saint Joseph, so that he can dream about it! In other words I tell him: pray for this problem!… Like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God’s voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act (Rom 13:11)… Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. This is very important! We have to be deeply engaged with the world, but with the power of prayer. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom in our world.’

[Pope Francis, Speech to families in Manila, 16 January 2015]

This blog is extracted from Online With Saintswhich offers a virtual encounter with hundreds of saints from all around the world. Women and men from all paths of life, linking their inspirational stories to real life modern questions and providing answers. It also includes a biography of Blessed Carlo Acutis.

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This blog is extracted from Online With Saints.

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