Summary: Our walk with and reliance on God can make a positive difference in our physical health.
When you’re under stress, your blood pressure rises, pulse quickens, and adrenalin shoots through your body. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you’re about to get hit by a truck, your stress response says, “Get out of the way!” That’s good. But when stress becomes chronic, your body never shuts down. Studies show chronic stress is damaging to your brain and deadly to your body. It can kill you.
Chronic stress put me in the hospital. At my last church, we went from one service & Bible study hour, to two services, then three services & two Bible study hours, with me also preaching a Sunday night service & teaching a Wednesday night study. We did four back-to-back building campaigns. Most preachers say it’s hard to survive one building campaign, much less four back-to-back. The problem, though, was I only THOUGHT I was surviving.
One Sunday, while preaching the 8:30 AM service, I fainted. An ambulance took me to the hospital, where I spent 3 days & nights in ICU. They ran tests and found nothing. Then the doctor asked about my schedule. When I described my typical work week, which often was with no day off, much less time for vacation, he diagnosed that I had been living under chronic stress and had suffered a physical breakdown. My body had said, “No more!” He said I had to change things where I was or change where I was. Did you notice I said this happened in my LAST church? God taught me some valuable lessons that and I want to pass along to you today.
Sadly, due to the way of our world today, battling chronic stress is more common. We live in a stressful world. But God can take us from being stressed to being blessed and lead us to better physical health.
“A heart at peace gives life to the body.” - Proverbs 14:30 (NIV)
Today, we’re going to look to Psalm 23 to discover principles for lowering stress and living a healthier life. (READ TEXT)
1. I need to rely on God - v. 1
Not looking to people or things to meet our needs as opposed to God - will cause our stress to go down dramatically. You can lose your job, health, reputation, spouse, or mind; but you can’t lose your relationship with Christ. Trust God to meet your needs.
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” - Isaiah 30:15 (NIV)
2. I need to rest my body - v. 2
So much of stress in life comes from always being in a hurry. So what do you do? You look to God to meet your needs and then you obey God’s instruction about rest. Verse 2 says, “He MAKES me lie down.”
This idea of rest is so important God put it in the Ten Commandments. Right up there with don’t commit adultery, or murder, or lie. He says every seventh day you take a day off. Paul said what was a regimented day of rest on Saturday for the Jews was a shadow of what was to come (Colossians 2:17). So don’t get hung up on making Saturday your day of rest. What’s important is the principle of Sabbath, that you take off at least one day for every seven. To be your best requires some rest.
“Sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.” - John Ortberg
A man told his pastor, “Pastor, I tried reach you all day Friday.” The pastor said, “Sorry, that’s my day off.” The man said, “The devil never takes a day off.” The pastor said, “Yeah, and if I didn’t, I’d be as mean as he is.”
3. I need to recharge my soul - v. 3a
A big factor in my recovering from my “stress mess” was reading my Bible and spending time in prayer daily. You see, what we give
attention to will either raise or lower our stress. In the Transformed handbook are daily devotions. Make use of them the next few weeks and see how time in God’s Word and in prayer will lower your stress.
4. I need to respond to God’s guidance - v. 3b
God always tells the truth and His timing is always perfect. So don’t be afraid to respond to that which He is telling you to do today.
A good example is Charlie & Martha Crane’s move to Clinton, Mississippi. They moved into a house needing some work. But when they arrived, Charlie found himself in need of a liver and kidney transplant. He couldn’t do anything.
But two men Charlie had hired to help with our church remodel now lived an hour away and helped with the work needed on the house. When Charlie obeyed God’s leading and hired them, he had no clue he’d need that friendship years later. But God knew, and God knows what you will need tomorrow. So trust Him today and follow His lead.