STRESS! It is talked about much these days but really what is it? A common definition is that stress is “a state of mental or emotional stain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.” Someone has said, “I stress about stress before there’s even stress to stress about.” I think that might well define many people in America today. It seems too many people think their job is just too stressful so they are continually looking for something less stressful or are too occupied with attempting to make it less stressful and in the process make it even more stressful. Oscar Wilde said in regards to stress and jobs, “The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.” Life without a job can often be very stressful. But Tom Goins said, “As I have gotten older and wiser, I discovered there are six things that I really loved about my job. Pay day, lunch time, quitting time, vacation time, holidays and of course retirement.” That’s a good way to look on the bright side of stress. Now I don’t mean to make light of the issue of stress. Stress is very real and as a Pastor and Missionary I have seen people in just about every area of life who are enduring real stress and many have not handled stress well. Others have amazed me with how well they have handled tremendous stress and lived lives that are a tremendous testimony to the human spirit and God’s daily care
Some people think that when you become a Christian stress should never be an issue. After all doesn’t God promise Christians an abundant life and surely He meant by that stress would never be an issue in our life. If that were true then someone forgot to tell the Apostles and certainly they forgot to tell the Apostle Paul. The Apostle relates to us that, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches, “(2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV). Now what were you saying about stress in your life? If even God’s choicest servants on this earth experience stress how will we escape the privilege ourselves?
Stress can be a route to God’s greatest blessings. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11;28-30 NIV). As long as we are alive on this earth we will endure stressful situations in life. Those situations change from day to day and during seasons of our life. If we do nothing they will come. If we attempt to do great things for God they will still come. You don’t have to look for stress but it will still show up sooner or later. But God never changes and He will do what He has said and give us rest in the middle of stress and help us to deal with it. The prophet Isaiah tells us about what God can and will do, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint,” (Isaiah 40:29-31 NIV). Stress will always be with us but our God never leaves us and will always be with us to help us to victory in life just as He did with the Apostle Paul.