Summary: If we can share our burdens with the Lord and trust a God who loves us beyond measure, then we will find peace in the midst of chaos, peace that passes all understanding.
I’m sure no one here has ever dealt with stress, right? Of course, we all know that’s not true. The only thing that might be true for some of us in here is that we haven’t dealt with stress today! Somehow, it seems, stress has become as much a part of our lives as sleeping or breathing. You know that old saying, “nothing is certain in this world but death and taxes.” I think it could probably be modified to go something like this, “nothing is certain in this world but death, and stress, and taxes!” And so that’s really why we find ourselves in the midst of the sermon series we have been doing this month, “Hanging in the Balance: Antidotes for the Crazy Life.” Because all of us deal with stress at some point in our lives, and if it’s not stress then it’s worry or anxiety. Sometimes that stress and worry and anxiety can become so severe that it actually affects our well-being; we have anxiety attacks, or we stop eating or sleeping or exercising the way we should. So we continue this week what we started a few weeks ago, looking at God’s wisdom for getting our lives in balance and living healthier, happier lives! Now, I will tell you, this is not a deep sermon, you probably won’t anything profound today, but sometimes we just need a simple reminder of the truths about the God who loves us and wants good things for us.
As we think about worry, stress, and anxiety this morning, I think it’s important to acknowledge right off the bat that at least some degree of worry and stress is good. There’s even a scientific name for it, “eu-stress.” This is the kind of stress or worry that causes us to move out of the road when a car is coming, or to run when a lion is chasing us. Eustress can even be the motivation that drives us to take care of ourselves and our families. But as we all know, stress, like so many other things, can go too far and become a very horrible thing in our lives.
I was a music education major in college. Now, there are some of you in here who know what that means. But for those of you who don’t, let me explain. When you are a music education major, that basically means you are getting two degrees; one in music, and one in education. So all music education majors are guaranteed a full course-load with almost no room for electives. Now, part of being a music major is being involved in ensembles, which are not considered part of your regular course load. So, whereas, a full college course-load is something like 15 hours for the average college student per semester; for the music major, it’s something more like 18-20 hours per semester. As you can imagine, when I first started living into this very full college schedule, I had a bit of trouble adjusting.
I remember going into my trombone professor’s office for a lesson one day, and it just so happened that he was also my academic advisor, and one a few very true mentors I have had in my life. Anyway, the door had barely closed when Dr. Britt said, “Something’s bothering you. What’s going on?” I said quite simply, “I’m really stressed.” We ended up spending the entire hour that day talking about what was stressing me out and how I could handle it better. The main thing I remember from that conversation was Dr. Britt suggesting that each night before I go to bed, I write down everything that I needed to accomplish the next day, then I wouldn’t lose sleep worrying about those things and the possibility of forgetting something. I didn’t ever do that, but I did learn something through our conversation that day. I learned that stress is something I have to control, not something that I can allow to control me.
Now, that was certainly an important lesson for me to learn. But there’s an even more important lesson for us today, one that we know but that I think we often forget, probably because we are so stressed out. It’s a lesson that comes from the Bible, over, and over, and over again. God says, “I am with you.” The Biblical solution for worry and stress is not “To-Do” lists or life coaches; instead, it’s a God who’s always with us. The Bible says at least 100 times, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus himself says that to the disciples 25 times, far more than the eight times he says the great commandment to love God and neighbor! We don’t have to be afraid; we don’t have to be stressed or worried because God is with us. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Now, don’t misunderstand the message here: God is not saying that our lives will be worry and stress-free. The message is not even that God will take care of our problems, but rather that he will be with us and help us. No matter what happens in life, God will hold our hands, take even the toughest things, and somehow through his amazing work, he will redeem them and make something good.