Summary: Stress is normal, and can be healthy. How we deal with it is what makes the difference. John the Baptist shows us how to cope in times of extreme stress by trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Title: How To Cope With Stress
Series: God Uses Broken Vessels
Text: Luke 7:19-23
Subject: Stress is normal, and can be healthy. How we deal with it is what makes the difference.
Psalm 23 Antithesis
The clock is my dictator, I shall not rest.
It makes me lie down only when exhausted.
It leads me into deep depression.
It hounds my soul.
It leads me in circles of frenzy, for activities sake.
Even though I run frantically from task to task, I will never get it all done,
For my ideal is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval, they drive me.
They demand performance from me, beyond the limits of my schedule.
They anoint my head with migraines,
My in-basket overflows.
Surely fatigue and time pressures shall follow me
All the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration
Illustration: The head of the Menninger Institute has stated that up to 70 percent of minor ailments such as colds and fatigue are psychosomatic reactions to day-to-day stress, and also that they can lead to more serious problems. (Source unknown)
I. EXPERIENCING STRESS DOES NOT INDICATE A WEAK FAITH.
19 And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
Note: John the Baptist had introduced Christ as One who would bring a fierce judgment. He was understandably confused by the turn of events: he was imprisoned, and Christ was carrying on a ministry of healing, not judgment, in Galilee, far from Jerusalem, the city of the king – and not finding a completely warm reception there (Matthew 8:34). John wondered if he had misunderstood Jesus’ agenda. It would be wrong to interpret this as a wavering of his faith. (MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Reference Bible. Matthew 11:13.)
A. It Is Not Unusual To Experience Doubt And Uncertainty.
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
1. Moses was ready to quit on one occasion.
2. Elijah fled from Jezebel.
3. Jeremiah cursed the day he was born.
4. Even Paul knew the meaning of despair.
B. There Is A Difference Between Doubt And Unbelief.
1. Doubt is a matter of the mind: we cannot understand what God is doing or why He is doing it.
2. Unbelief is a matter of the will: we refuse to believe God’s Word and obey what He tells us to do.
Note: “Doubt is not always a sign that a man is wrong, it may be a sign that he is thinking.” Oswald Chambers. In John’s case, his inquiry was not born of willful unbelief, but of doubt nourished by physical and emotional stress.
II. WHEN WE EXPERIENCE STRESS JESUS WILL CONFIRM OUR FAITH.
20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
Illustration: A Winnie the Pooh story gives a delightful illustration of our desire to hear words that are friendly and warm, rather than harsh or hard.
One day Pooh Bear is about to go for a walk in the Hundred Acre wood. It’s about 11:30 in the morning. It is a fine time to go calling – just before lunch. So Pooh set out across the stream, stepping on the stones, and when he gets right in the middle of the stream he sits down on a warm stone and thinks about just where would be the best place of all to make a call. He says to himself, “I think I’ll go see Tigger.” No, he dismisses that. Then he says, “Owl!” Then, “No, Owl uses big words, hard-to-understand words.” At last he brightens up! “I know! I think I’ll go see Rabbit. I like Rabbit. Rabbit uses encouraging words like, ‘How’s about lunch?’ and ‘Help yourself, Pooh!’ Yes, I think I’ll go see Rabbit.’”
A. He Is More Concerned With Our Relationship Than Our Religion.
Illustration: Theory of Relativity
If you think your family has problems, consider the marriage mayhem created when 76-year-old Bill Baker of London recently wed Edna Harvey. She happened to be his granddaughter’s husband’s mother. That’s where the confusion began, according to Baker’s granddaughter, Lynn.
“My mother-in-law is now my step-grandmother. My grandfather is now my stepfather-in-law. My mom is my sister-in-law and my brother is my nephew. But even crazier is that I’m now married to my uncle and my own children are my cousins.” (Campus Life, March, 1981, p. 31.)