Stress Management 7/19/98

Psalm 37:1 – 7
Page 826 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ was God in flesh and blood. He was called “Immanuel,” which means, “God with us.” We do well to learn from His example as well as His teaching. On an occasion when He was depleted from ministering to others He left the demanding crowd and went off by Himself. Even He knew He could not minister out of a bleached out body and spirit. He learned to take minute vacations as well as to retreat.

On an occasion the disciples came to Him and said the whole world is here to see you. He walked away. He just walked away. Sounds impersonal and disinterested doesn’t it. He knew His limit and limited His public ministry in order to be renewed Himself.

Ours is a stressful society. The other day I saw a teenager zoom onto the parking lot at a funeral home going at least twice the appropriate speed while talking on a cell phone. I thought, “Has life has become so urgent and so stressful as to demand this.”

Adults often manifest a martyr complex by overextending themselves. It is as though there is a guilt complex by persons who think they can relieve the guilt by abusing themselves. We seem to have developed a “Society for the Admiration of the Stressed Out.”

Stress is a subject Christians need to address. UPI just released the results of a study made by three sociology professors at the University of New Hampshire that shows Georgia ranks third, behind only Alaska and Nevada, in stress.

Stress related diseases are higher in Georgia and the other two states than the national average. Georgia ranked number 8 in alcohol related deaths and alcoholic psychoses.

Family stresses are given as the reason for the high stress level in Georgia.

We need to manage to control stress for economic reasons also. Stress-related pain is estimated to cost American businesses some 700 million workdays and $60 billion a year.

Stress results in a chemical or hormonal imbalance caused by heavy demands made on the body. It is a major contributor to cardiac disease, hypertension, peptic ulcers, arthritis, and numerous other maladies, all with a common denominator —- excessive stress.

Researchers estimate that 60% to 70% of all illness is stress related.

Dr. Hans Selye, M.D. is perhaps Canada’s most celebrated scientist. He founded the International Institute of Stress. He concluded stress induced diseases are on the increase in our society because the changing environment creates great demands on mind and body. He wrote:

“Stress can and does affect every aspect of life. Though it is necessary and unavoidable, too much of it produces staggering changes in intellectual and emotional attitudes as well as in health.”

Dr. Selye and his colleagues stated that though undue stress is adverse to good health and performance stress it is also the spice of life and the absence of stress is death. It is a stimulus that motivates us. We thrive on properly balanced stress. Such is called eustress.

To control stress it is essential to be attentive to the early warning signs. There are four, check yourself on them now and often:
Physical – upset stomach, dry mouth, muscle aches and pains.
Cognitive – loss of the ability to concentrate, being forgetful or humorless.
Emotional – being short tempered, sarcastic, or demoralized.
Behavioral – uh-oh, drinking more coffee or alcohol, eating more sweets, or over sleeping, and compulsive exercising.

Just the normal every day demands are enough to devitalize a person. When it happens what can a person do? Therapy for such a time is noted in Psalm 37.

I. DO GOOD (VS. 3)
Enter the training school of duty. Don’t sit in despair. When stress comes your way reach out to help someone.

In the poem “The Shoes of Happiness,” Conrad the old cobbler dreamed the Master would visit him. Expectantly he waited. Each time someone came by or entered his shop he excitedly responded hoping it was Christ. He didn’t come. A beggar came and Conrad gave him shoes. An old woman came stooped beneath a load. He refreshed her and gave her food. A lost, teary eyed child came and he returned her to her parents. His Divine guest didn’t come. However,
Then soft in the silence a voice he hears.
‘Lift up your heart, for I kept my word.
Three times I came to your friendly door;
Three times my shadow was on your floor.
I was the beggar with the bruised feet,
I was the woman you gave to eat,
I was the child in the homeless street.’

Christ said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

The Hebrew text reads: “Be silent in God” or “Hold still before God.” This implies a troubled mind, an agitated state of being, a person perplexed, mentally extended, emotionally exhausted, and physically depleted. It depicts one with a great cloud over his or her spirit.

These words are addressed to two groups:
(1) Persons suffering from a guilt conscience – convicted, sin weary unbeliever.
(2) Distracted and distraught believer experiences trials.

There is an active and a passive rest.

ACTIVE rest is being engaged in work, doing God’s will. This enables one to get your mind off yourself and yourself off your mind. This requires involvement but with detachment.

PASSIVE rest involves unplugging and setting aside time to be alone with God. This is the interior fountain of active goodness.

This is difficult for those of us enthusiasts.

A well known psychiatrist has written, “Repose in God is the secret of power.” Psychologically there is a reason. We use only a small percent of our mind. It is divided into the conscious, fore- conscious, and subconscious. In the routine of a busy day the conscious mind is used. The fore- conscious mind is the seat of the imaginative and contemplative faculties. Poems, music, prayers, insight and creativity of all forms rise from here. It is there that great enterprises are given birth. There God and man meet.

Dr. Selye notes prayer is one of the three most effective treatments for stress. Don’t neglect this vital factor.

We are like birds looking for a tree in which to nest, but every tree in the forest has a woodsman’s mark on it awaiting the cutting. Every tree that is, but one. That one is illustrative of Jesus.

I have been reading a delightful little book recently entitled: “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.” The sub title is: “And All Stuff Is Small.”

We tend to get up tight when someone cuts us off in traffic or slows down just enough to get through a green light but too much for us to make it. Steam rises from our collars. This often slows us down at least .6 seconds. That’s small stuff. Give yourself a break, don’t sweat the small stuff and remember —– all stuff is small.

REST IN THE LORD. He is personally our royal chamber.

HIS POWER – I have omnipotence on my side.

HIS PROMISES – COROCOVADO, a massive statue of Christ rises over Rio, Brazil in a striking manner. It can be seen from all over the city and for miles around. It is often obscured from view by clouds, but it is there. So God’s promises remain.

HIS PURPOSE. He is to be glorified in us. Learn the happy art of passing all praise on to Him. The intended end of life is not happiness, but duty. God has a purpose for you.

“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” JESUS CHRIST.

Serving the Lord is a challenge – it is difficult.

Suffering for the Lord is demanding – it is more difficult.

Waiting on the Lord is the most severe discipline – it is THE most difficult.

Waiting on the Lord does not hint of passive indifference but active perseverance.
WE ARE TO WAIT – – – –

A. CONFIDENTLY. Vs. 7 “…wait patiently…”
This means to trust God to do His part when we are perfectly sure we have done ours.

We can do this if we will:
1. Pay attention to God’s rules regarding our minds and bodies. Various people have different mental stamina. Physically fatigued bodies can’t fight spiritual battles. What affects the body influences the brain.

2. Maintain a good conscience. This even influences our cholesterol. Diet has about a 10% influence on cholesterol. High adrenalin causes high cholesterol. Our mental attitude dramatically influences our adrenalin level. A good conscience can lower both.

3. Regularly feed your mind on God’s Word. Don’t expect God’s blessings while you are in a state of disobedience.

4. Cast every particular care on the Lord. “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7). The word “cast” means to toss them to Him. If you do they are no longer in your hands. Let go of the stressors.

5. “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Employ His strategy of gratitude. This enables one to do the best of things in the worst of times.

6. Engage in prayer. Dr. Selye notes prayer is one of the most effective treatments for stress.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4: 6 – 7).

Ask God to give you the strength to change what needs to be changed, the ability to accept what can’t be changes, and the wisdom to know the difference.

B. CHEERFULLY. Vs. 7 “…fret not because of him…” We often fret and fume as though there is no eternity, no day of reckoning. The ultimate end of the wicked is described:

He shall “be cut off” (vs. 9); “not be” (vs. 10); “perish” (vs. 2).

C. COMPLYING. Vs. 34 “Wait on the Lord, and keep His way…”

Years ago there lived an elderly couple in a modest cottage on a tiny island in the Great Lake area. They lived alone in isolation without any neighbors for many miles. Their remoteness and isolation concerned their friends, Dr. and Mrs. Roy L. Smith. One day the Smiths had a council of love and decided to invite the couple to come and live out their days with them. The next day Dr. Smith and one of his daughters went by boat to the remote island where the couple lived by themselves. To the gracious invitation came the reply, “Of course, we can’t accept the invitation, can we, dear?” The couple then led Dr. Smith through the yard and along a winding pathway until at last they came to a clearing with a carpet of green grass bordered by beautiful flowers. In the center of this little clearing was a tiny mound with a snow white cross at its head. The old man put his arm around his wife and said, “We can’t leave our island home, for you see we lost a son here.”

Likewise, no matter what happens, God will never leave this floating island in the sky called, planet earth, because He lost a Son here!

He will never leave us or forsake us. You can wait on Him.