Stressed Out! (Five Stress Points)
Let me share a few specific points of stress with you:
1. Different people handle different types of stress differently.
In other words, the identical pressure applied to two unique individuals will impact them in various ways. One person may handle an intense family squabble quite well while the other becomes a basket case.
Finances are a constant worry for one person. She frets constantly about paying bills, the future, college, credit cards, and so forth even though they are financially stable. Another seems relatively unconcerned about the same issue despite earning a much lower wage.
Different conditions affect different people in different ways, depending on their personality, weaknesses, levels of faith, upbringing, and so on. Even though we may not completely understand why another person is sweating bullets over a particular situation, we must learn to sympathize with their anxiety. The specific issue gigging us may not be any problem for them whatsoever.
2. Some stressful conditions develop due to external forces beyond our control.
We do not have the capacity to absolutely block all attacks. They come at us in a fallen world no matter what we do.
Death, family turmoil, relationship struggles, a stressful work environment, war, natural disasters, and an untold number of others attack our psyche randomly and continuously. Christians also are subject to stressful situations.
We can do very little to prevent this bombardment. The best we can do is run to our Fortress and Rock for shelter during turbulent times.
3. Certain stress is caused by external and internal factors we CAN control or prevent entirely.
If we are living an ungodly lifestyle and subject ourselves to destructive habits, what do we expect the outcome to be? If our hearts are filled with guilt, unforgiveness, or pride, then there are emotional and spiritual consequences. When we disobey God’s will for our lives, the peace of God will constantly elude our souls. Poor financial planning using God’s Biblical principles will result in hardship. Our crass personality (Mr. Grumpy) will cause people to distance themselves from us.
There are literally thousands of pressures we bring on ourselves. But the good news is this -- through God these weighty pressures can be eliminated. They have gained a foothold through our weaknesses. We CAN be delivered by the power of Christ. Christ Jesus is the great “stress reducer.” I think at times I would be literally insane with Him.
4. Simply because bad things happen to us and stressful situations find us does not indicate we are disobedient to God, or God doesn’t like us very much, or God is mad at us.
Sometimes pressure is increased due to the fact we are living for the Lord. I would admit to experiencing particular types of stress more often after I surrendered to the Lord than before. How could that be? Because before I was born again, I was selfish and lived life for myself. I didn’t genuinely love or care for very many people.
Conversely, now that the love of Christ has been shed abroad in my heart, I am immensely more concerned about lost and hurting people, kingdom of God responsibilities, a wife and three children, the condition of our world, the invasion of rampant sin, and so forth.
Previously, when I was running alongside Mr. Satan, we never butted heads. Now they we are going in opposite directions, I run head-long into him on many occasions.
You may be able to relate the same story. Some things were simpler when it was solely “me, myself, and I.” Now you have taken some real spiritual responsibility for the Kingdom of God and the souls of others.
Don’t misunderstand, these stresses are manageable. Compared to the pressures we experienced before becoming Christians, they are considered “light weight.” After all, the strain of guilt, condemnation, eternal punishment, enmity with God, unforgiveness, bondage to sin, fear, hopelessness, restlessness, and so forth…now these are unbearable weights to carry. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ who has delivered us.
5. **We may not be able to control or remove ourselves from all stressful conditions, but through Christ we able to maintain our joy and peace through it all.
We CAN sleep through the storm. We will close our eyes and rest in a pit of ferocious felines.
No, we are incapable of doing so with our own strength (don’t try it). The pressures are simply too strong and too numerous to fend off constant attacks from every angle. A pressure is applied until it finds our weakness (i.e. a crack in the tire). Then we develop a leak. We were never created to survive in this world on our own. We were created to depend upon God.
We discover our true depth of faith and strength when pressure is applied. It is true that God may place us into a particular unwelcome situation for a good reason. But more often, this fallen world and “life” itself applies constant pressures. Whatever the reason, God will provide the strength to endure and overcome the stressful conditions through faith, trust, and rest in Jesus Christ.
It will not be easy. No one enjoys finding themselves in the midst of a raging fire. But through Christ the same inferno which is intended to scorch us instead will serve as a tool to burn away our impurities…if we trust in God. We end up not only surviving the flames, but we, as Job said, "Come forth as gold."