Summary: In times of stress, we need people...to support us...teammates...to care about
PHILIPPIANS AND STRESS: DON’T FACE IT ALONE
***Fresh out of school, I started my first job, teaching high school math. I had 5 classes, with more than 30 students filling the desks each hour. I was immature and unprepared for the challenges before me, figuring things out as I went. I worked from morning until night, 6 days a week. Stress.
I lived in a small apartment—actually, it was more like an old roadside cabin. I was alone, with only a couple of homebound neighbors to talk with. I started looking for a church home, with little success, since few churches had any single adults. By Christmas, I still had not found a group of Christians to share life. I was alone.
At the Christmas break, I stepped on a scale. Understand—I have a slender build, and although I always ate a lot, I was never overweight, and I don’t struggle with my weight today. But that Christmas vacation, after 3 months of stress and loneliness, I found that I had gained 15 pounds.
Within a few months, I found a Christian group in a church, and I made it through that rough year. I discovered an important truth about facing stress.**
DON’T FACE STRESS ALONE.
We are coming to the end of our study of Philippians, with a focus on handling stress. Paul is imprisoned in Rome, with an uncertain future. How does he handle stress?
Paul has Christ. All through the letter, he reminds them—and himself—that Christ is with him. Yet he needs other people as well.
***A young boy was in the habit of waking up at night, seeing monsters in his bedroom. He would always call to wake his father, demanding that the father chase away the monsters and give him a hug. Finally, the father said to him, “You know, Jesus is always with us. He can chase away the monsters.” The boy replied, “Yes, but I need a hug from someone with skin.”**
WE NEED PEOPLE TO SUPPORT US.
Read Philippians 4:10-20.
Christ was enough to get Paul through the challenges he faced. He had learned, with Christ’s help, to be content when he was lacking even the basic necessities of life, because Christ gave him strength.
Yet it was sure nice when people stepped up to support him. The people in Philippi had supported him in his ministry in Greece, and now they had sent Epaphroditus all the way to Rome with a care package. It meant so much that they were there for him.
A lot of people who come to church are facing stress—stress they never share with others. Some walk in, do their thing, and walk out, without really talking to anybody. Some put up a mask of peace and contentment; if asked how things are going with them, they respond, “Pretty good,” or “Fine.”
Unfortunately, some feel ashamed of the stress they can’t seem to overcome on their own. They think that if they admit their need for support, people will judge them.
Paul didn’t feel that way. In several of his letters, he talked freely about the stress he was facing. One time, when he was in prison, he wrote to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:9-13) “Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me…When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.” Paul was not afraid to ask for help.
The Christian life is not meant to be lived in solitude. Even Jesus had 12 disciples, and as he approached the cross, he took them with him into the Garden of Gethsemane. Matthew 26:38 tells us, “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”
Sometimes it takes a crisis to break down the walls, and bring people together.
***A man I used to know had a life-threatening accident last week. His niece started a prayer wall on Facebook, and as many as 100 people gathered to prayer for the man, while 1500 reposted. Many of the people who posted have probably never asked a friend to pray for them!**
When you are stressed, do you have people who support you? You won’t find those people if you refuse to let them into your life. Do you reach out to the people who care about you, honestly sharing your struggles? How can they support you if they don’t know what you are facing, or you refuse to talk about it?
We need people to support us.
WE NEED TEAMMATES.
In athletics, or at work, having a good team makes every challenge easier.
Paul always worked with a team. He traveled with Barnabus, John Mark, Luke, Silas, and Timothy. He stayed two years in Corinth with Priscilla and Aquila. Timothy was with him in Rome, and he was like a son as well as a teammate.