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Summary: Stress. It can take a toll on us physically. In 1900, the top 10 killers were infectious diseases. By the turn of the 21st century, the top 10 killers were all related to stress. So how do we not live with stress but overcome it?

Overcoming Stress

II Corinthians 4:8-9

A woman took her husband to the doctor’s office. After his checkup, the doctor said, "Your husband is suffering from a very serious infection brought on by stress." The husband was hard of hearing said, "What did he say?" His wife answered, "He says you’re sick.” The doctor went on. "But there is hope. You just need to reduce his stress. Each morning, give him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant, nice, and kind. For lunch and dinner make him his favorite meal. Don’t discuss your problems with him, it will only make his stress worse. Don’t yell at him or argue with him. And most importantly, just cater to his every whim. If you can do this for your husband for the next 6 months to a year, your husband will have a complete recovery." The husband said, "What did he say?" His wife said, "He says, ‘You’re going to die!’”

Stress. It can take a toll on us physically. In 1900, the top 10 killers were infectious diseases. By the turn of the 21st century, the top 10 killers were all related to stress. There are 4 major stresses everybody faces in life: relationships, finances, work and health concerns. The fact is every person has stress in their life. I’ve got it. You’ve got it. We’ve all got it. But chronic stress can take a physical toll on us. David Stoop’s in his book, “Self Talk” says stress causes 40 million people to suffer from allergies, 30 million from sleeplessness, 25 million from hypertension and 20 million from ulcers. Are you stressed? See if any of these apply to you:

1. Decision-making is difficult (both major and minor kinds).

2. Excessive daydreaming or fantasizing about "getting away from it all."

3. Increased use of cigarettes and/or alcohol.

4. Increased use of tranquilizers and "uppers."

5. Thoughts trail off while speaking or writing.

6. Excessive worrying.

7. Sudden outbursts of anger and hostility.

8. Paranoid ideas and mistrust of friends and family.

9. Forgetfulness for appointments, deadlines, and dates.

10. Frequent spells of brooding and feelings of inadequacy.

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to stress. The fact is much of our stress is unnecessary. Take worry for example. Did you know that 40% of what we worry about never happens, 30% is about old decisions which can’t be changed, 23% centers on criticism made by others, and 10% are health related which only worsens our health. Only 8% of what we worry about are legitimate problems we need to deal with. And the longer we carry these worries, the greater the toll on us. Take this glass of water as an example. "How heavy is it?" Have people call out answers. Then reply, "The weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. And that’s the way it is with stress. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on."

How we respond to stress in our lives is not only important physically but also spiritually. It influences our relationship to God. And it literally can become part of our witness and living proof of the power of the resurrection in our life, or not. I love the story of a man being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow, and so he stopped at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by speeding through the intersection. The tailgating woman was furious and honked her horn, screaming in frustration, dropping her cell phone and makeup. As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up and saw very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car, arrested her and then placed her in a holding cell. After a couple of hours, she was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects. He said, "I’m very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, making gestures, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the ’What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ’Follow Me to Sunday-School’ bumper Sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!” Sometimes we’re the only Gospel someone will read. I was in the gym a few months ago and was talking to a golfing acquaintance and we got to sharing about our lives. I shared about my in laws who live with us, one of whom has stage 4 cancer and the other has dementia, a son who is struggling with deep depression and then the struggles I’ve had here at Munholland. And there was a long pause and Steve said, “Wow, you carry your struggles well. I would have never known.” And that’s when I had the opportunity to share that it was because of my faith and the power of the resurrection that I was able to weather the stress in my life.”

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