Summary: This sermon deals with the problems of stress and provides a TRANQUILIZER for dealing with it.
Nail biting, hair pulling, chin touching. . . . The other night Rebecca and I watched the television show Everybody Loves Raymond. In that episode, Raymond’s brother Robert was discovered to have an irritating habit. Before Robert put food into his mouth, he touched it to his chin. His in-laws noticed the problem first. For the rest of the show, everyone tried to discover the root of Robert’s problem. Finally, they all discover that the practice of chin-touching was a stress-coping mechanism. Stress causes us to do strange things!
Stress is a problem in our society. One of the main causes of stress is overload. American society and the Protestant work ethic teach us to become overcommitted, overloaded, and overwhelmed. In a recent issue of HomeLife magazine. a woman shared her problem with stress. She told how her elementary school daughter was talking through her schedule and wasnoting how she had no days free. The elementary school girl was stressing out! The mother realized no child should be stressing out at such a young age!
Is your family like that? Many of us are just too busy. Therefore, we get stressed out.
On top of that, there are those of us who create stress by worrying. I learned to worry from my grandma and her famous “Soff Soff Routine.” Grandma still follows this ritual before leaving her house. My grandma goes through her whole house checking to make sure things are off. The name of the routine comes from what it sounds like to anyone listening to her (water’s off, oven’s off, etc.). I have been riding with my grandma a mile or so from her house when she turned around and headed back to her house just to make sure something was off or locked – even after all that routine and after saying, “Now, Stew, Stew! Watch me! See? Watch me!”
I laugh about that, but I have stresses that are just as dumb. I’ll lay in bed at night and say, “Rebecca, what about . . . . and what about? . . . Do you think . . . .” Rebecca quite often will scream out – “Ugh, would you give it up!” In fact, this sermon is the result of my dealing with how I deal with stress in my life. Many of the things I will share today I learned from and come from the little book by O.S. Hawkins, High Calling, High Anxiety.
Stress comes sometimes from worry and sometimes from overload. But whatever its source, stress is problematic in a family. Stress has ruined many relationships and many lives. Stress hurts. Perhaps stress is costing you your health, your happiness, your home, and even your hopes.
Stress has physical implications. High stress levels over long periods of time can cause health problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, ulcers, chronic backaches and headaches, and other unhealthy conditions. Stress also has mental implications. Stress can make you paranoid, distracted, depressed, and hopeless. Stress also has spiritual implications. Stress can lead you away from God. In fact, to wallow in stress means that you are trying to do everything on your own instead of allowing God to have control of your life.
None of these implications are good. This morning we are going to learn how to deal with stress, so it will stop having such a debilitating affect on our lives.
Our key text for this morning is James 1:2-12. James wrote these words to people who knew a great deal about stress. They were Christians that had been scattered by persecution. They had lost their homes, their jobs, and their belongings. In this passage, James informs them about the stress in their lives. (read passage)
In this passage James shares a number of things that we need to know about stress.
First, we need to know that stress is inevitable (1:2).
Look at v. 2. The word “whenever” is important. It reminds us, “Buddy, get ready, it’s coming.” Stress is inevitable, inescapable, unavoidable.
James is also wise to observe that stress comes in many ways. He says the trials are of many kinds and many colors. James knew that not all trials or stressors are alike. Some of them are job related, some are financial in nature, some are domestic, and some are the result of the fear of failure. Other trials are the result of old age, guilt, competition at school or at work, problems at the office or day-to-day experiences in the home. Other trials are supernatural. They come upon us because we are Christians. Often when we line up with Christ, we line up against the world.
The point is: in this life we inevitably are faced with trials of all sorts and stripes. These trials are natural and inevitable because we live in fleshly bodies and in a sinful world. Often, well meaning friends will encourage us to “avoid stress.” But this is impossible. Stress happens!