Summary: This sermon helps one to deal with the stresses of life by leaning upon Christ.
“How To Deal With Stress”
Several weeks ago on my return trip from Houston, Texas, I came upon a strip of highway that was under construction. Two lanes had narrowed down to one with concrete abutments on either side. The posted speed limit slowed from 70 miles per hour down to 40. Another sign had been posted that warned all motorists that fines issued in a construction zone would be double!
Since I did not want to get a ticket that I could not afford to pay, I slowed down to the posted 40 miles per hour. All cars and trucks ahead of me soon disappeared from sight; but, behind me, they began to pile up. Right on my bumper was an eighteen wheeler, and another was behind him! Within seconds, I knew that it was either break the posted speed limit and drive 70, or get run over by an angry truck driver! With no place to turn off….and nothing else I could do….I put my foot on the gas and rushed through the 11 mile long construction zone under great duress.
We live in a complex world that rushes madly onward. You are expected to either “push, pull, or get out of the way.” There are times when we feel that we are about to be “run-over” because we simply can’t keep up with the demands that are made upon us. Many of us are “worn out physically; maxxed out financially; stressed out emotionally; and burned out spiritually.” We have come to the end of our rope and there doesn’t seem to be enough rope left to even tie a knot so that we might hang on!
As we look at this very familiar passage of scripture, we find that Jesus is offering some sound advice to men and women who were very much like modern man, today. They had hopes and dreams that were often shattered by the realities of life. They had worries and frustrations that piled upon them; leaving them not knowing exactly how to cope. Jesus’ advice to them was simply this: “Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow. Don’t be anxious about it, or even give thought to it.”
Surely there were some gathered there that day who thought, “That is easy enough for Jesus to say. He is God, and therefore knows what the future holds. As God, He has an endless supply from which He can draw. He can turn water into wine; break bread and feed the multitudes; heal every manner of sickness and disease. But, we are humans with weaknesses and frailties; with fears and concerns. We are limited in ways that He is not.” Beloved, all of this is true, but our strength does not lie within ourselves, but within God, Himself.”
This morning, as we look into the Word of God, I want us to consider four things that we might do to effectively deal with the stress in our lives. God’s Word, in the matter of stress, has a solution, just as it does for any other problem we might experience.
First, in order to deal with stress, we must concentrate on things that can calm.
Someone wise person once coined the phrase: “What you don’t know can’t harm you.” I suppose that statement is true because what you don’t know simply cannot play on your mind. We have often talked about the fact that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare, and the battlefield is the mind. It is with negative and destructive thoughts that Satan fights against us as he fills our minds with negative thoughts that create worry and frustration and cause our minds spin out of control.
The word concentrate is key in relieving stress. All too often our concentration, or focus, is misdirected. We tend to focus in on the negative thoughts because we want to stand in readiness against that which threatens us. But, as we think of the negative, instead of finding relief through solutions, we become more and more overwhelmed. Weighed in the balance of our mind, whatever we focus on becomes greater in power and influence.
For that reason, our focus does not need to be on our problems, but on the God who is able to solve our problems. We need to concentrate on His person, His power, His protection, and His provision. We need to claim from His Word that He “…is our refuge and strength; a very present help in the time of trouble. And….even though the earth shakes, and the waters swell, God is still in control of all things - even us individually!”
The apostle Paul, in his letter to the believers at Philippi, exhorted them in 4:8, saying: “…whatsoever things are true; whatsoever things are honest; whatsoever things are just; whatsoever things are pure; whatsoever things are lovely; whatsoever things are of a good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”