And so, I’d like to analyze this thing called stress for a few minutes, for it may not be what we sometimes think it is. First of all, it is very much a thing of the mind, an invisible war that takes place in our thought life, and something all of us have to deal with.
However, since it is usually triggered by very visible and tangible situations, we tend to think of it almost as a physical malady. If we add the various bodily symptoms that often come with it, it is no wonder that we may see it as an evil attacking us from “out there” somewhere.
Stress can come to us in many ways and from many directions. It may come through a demanding boss, unpleasant co-workers, or nasty clients. There is a kind that comes knocking at our door when bills are due and money is scarce. Other common sources are family tensions, health problems or uncertainties, huge and intimidating projects, or complex ministry situations.
Sleepless nights are a frequent product, as well as tightness in the chest, loss or increase of appetite, irritability, etc…
But ultimately, stress is very much a spiritual battle. At least, I see it that way in my life. There comes a point when I have to stop blaming circumstances and take a look deeper and inside.
In order to get some perspective on the issue, let’s consider three very familiar Bible stories.
First, think of the Israelites, right out of Egypt. They soon found themselves facing a sea of water with the Egyptian chariots pressing in from behind. They were mega stressed, so much so that they blamed Moses for taking them to their death and wished they were slaves back in Egypt! But should they have been stressed? NO, absolutely not. From reality’s perspective, they weren’t in the slightest bit of danger. And after the miracles they had just witnessed, they should have been looking up and saying, “Hmmmm. I wonder how God is going to get us out of THIS mess?”
Now let’s think about the three Hebrews standing before Nebuchadnezzar. They could probably hear the roar of the fire and feel the increase of temperature coming from the furnace. Knowing it was their next stop, shouldn’t they have stressed out? NO, and they didn’t. Why not?
Because they believed God.
Finally, move forward a few chapters and think about Daniel, and how stressed he was when the lion’s den decree was passed. Actually, he wasn’t, was he? Why not?
Because he believed God.
Now let’s ask ourselves why we are often stressed into desperation over circumstances that don’t come even close to these I mentioned? Why were we stressed out?
Because we failed to believe God.
We didn’t rule our minds and control our thinking, and we either forgot or ignored basic truths like these:
Psalm 23:1, The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
Isaiah 26:3-4, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, who mind is stayed on thee…
So the next time I feel stress beginning to invade my soul, I trust I’ll have the maturity to acknowledge what’s really happening and repeat what a certain gentleman said long ago, “Lord, please help my unbelief!