Summary: Finding Hope & Encouragement When You Are Distressed.
Three little old ladies were traveling down the road when they got pulled over by a highway patrolman. The patrolman walked up to their car and said to the driver, “Ma’am, do you know why I pulled you over today?”
“No, I don’t,” said the little old lady behind the wheel.
“Ma’am…I pulled you over today because of the speed you were driving,” said the officer.
“Sir…that’s absurd,” said the little old lady. “I was doing the exact speed limit.”
Well…the officer was confused and kindly said to the lady, “Ma’am…I’m sorry…but I clocked you on my radar going only 20 miles per hour.”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you,” said the lady, “I was doing the exact speed limit. See, 20 miles per hour…right there!” she said while pointing to a sign on the side of the road.
With a chuckle…the officer told her, “Ma’am…that’s the sign telling you that you’re traveling on Highway 20. I’m going to let you off with a warning, but please be aware of the street signs.”
As he turned to walk away…he saw another little old lady in the back seat who was completely broken down…breathing heavy…and grasping her seat in distress. The officer then turned around and asked the driver, “Is she okay in the back seat?”
“Oh yes,” said the little old lady behind the steering wheel. “She’s fine…we just got off of highway 185.”
That little old lady in the back seat was experiencing something that is common to each of us. Distress.
See the word “stress” hanging out there at the end of “distress”? There’s a good reason for that:
Distress is defined as: a feeling of extreme worry, sadness, or pain. Exhausted or weakened with strain. Troubled.
Ships send out “Distress Calls” when they are in trouble at sea.
We’ve all probably seen a cartoon or old movie where the bad guy ties a woman to the railroad tracks. She is known as a “Damsel in Distress.”
A number of years ago…Parker (my son) and I refinished our dining room table. Rather than making it look brand new…we did what is referred to as a “Distressed Finish.”
My kids buy jeans that already have holes in them. They are distressed.
The most powerful of the powerful people of our world can’t escape distress.
The richest of the rich can’t avoid it.
The most spiritual of the spiritual are confronted with it.
Distress is common to all.
1 Samuel 30:6 tells us that “David was greatly distressed.”
In fact…Mark 14:33 makes it clear that even Jesus Himself couldn’t dodge distress. “He (Jesus) began to be deeply distressed and troubled.” So much so that He said in the next verse, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Folks…that’s some distress.
Distress is a common feeling / experience. When we are distressed…it affects us in a variety of ways.
(1) Sorrow - We just read where Jesus Himself…in time of distress was overwhelmed with sorrow.
(2) Weariness - The Psalmist said, “I am weary from distress.” (Psalm 57:6)
(3) Lack of Sleep - Psalm 77:4, David is going through a season of distress and says, “You don’t let me sleep.”
Proverbs 1:27 says that Distress can give us…(4) A Sense of Being Overwhelmed
In fact…in Psalm 77:4, David is so overwhemed by distress that he doesn’t even know how or what to pray.
But we’re not here to focus on the effects of Distress…instead…
I’m here to share with you that there is an answer to your distress.
The Apostle Paul, who wrote what 2 Corinthians…experienced all kinds of hardships:
Chapter 4 - “We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles.”
Chapter 5 - “We cry out in frustration.”
Chapter 6 - “Beaten up, jailed, slandered, ignored, beaten within an inch of our lives, immersed in tears, living on hand-outs, having nothing.”
In Chapter 7…He turns to the topic of distress.
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 7:5-12. (Reading from The Message Bible)
Paul points out some common sources of distress:
(1) Change [Change is difficult for most of us...Paul often changed locations...typically under duress which caused distress]
"When we arrived in Macedonia, we couldn't settle down."
“We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out.”
The word worry comes from the Old English wyrgan…which originally meant “to strangle.”
Uncertainty…worry is distressing…because you can’t relax. It strangles peace.
(3) Fears in the Heart
“The fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles.”
(4) Tension / Conflict
“Fights in the church…”
(5) Misunderstandings / Correction / Discipline
Paul says, “I know I distressed you greatly with my letter.”
(6) Bad News
Philippians 2:26 - “He (Epaphroditus) was very distressed that you heard he was ill.”
Side Note: We all have a tendancy to magnify or exaggerate the source of our distress…imagining an unfavorable outcome…causing us to become even more distressed. Psychologist call it Catastrophic Thinking. It’s what Elijah did in 1 Kings 19 when after fleeing Jezebel following his showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel…he’s exhausted, discouraged, distressed. He says all the people of Israel have forsaken God…he’s the only one left who is faithful…and as a result…God’s purpose for Israel will fail. When the truth is…there are actually 7000 faithful people left and God is in complete control.