Struggling with Stress
Series: Winning the Battle with Anxiety
May 5, 2013
Traits characteristic of the stress-prone:
1. Plans day unrealistically
2. First to arrive, last to leave
3. Always in a hurry
4. Makes no plan for relaxation
5. Feels guilty about doing anything other than work
6. Sees unforeseen problem as a setback or disaster
7. Is always thinking about several other things when working
8. Feels need to be recognized and overextends because of this
When Anxiety attacks
Struggling with Stress
Winning over Worry
Facing Down the Fear
Causes of stress
Family member who is in the midst of a crisis
Job situation where demands are unrealistic
Finances are running low and bills keep stacking up
Friend who is in the middle of a messy divorce
Health issues that just won’t seem to go away
22 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.25"Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him." Luke 8:22-25
Stress happens when we least expect it
The start of this ordeal is just an ordinary day of ministry. Any day with Jesus in ministry was extraordinary. Jesus has finished a day of teaching and preaching with the intent to continue the work on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples may have thought the day was extraordinary and may not have wanted it to end. The disciples think nothing of a late evening boat ride across the Sea of Galilee. Their thoughts were already on the work of Jesus the next day.
Remember that several of the disciples were fishermen and would have been familiar with being on the sea at night. They set out without a reservation. There were zero signs of trouble on the horizon. Their extraordinary day was not yet over.
Storms were common on the sea but not at night and the disciples would have been familiar with those ordinary storms. Luke clearly describes this storm as something that was out of the ordinary.
Luke states that a squall came down on the sea. The phrase he uses here is filled with meaning that we might miss. This was no ordinary storm and was nothing that the disciples would have been familiar with. These were the kinds of storms that you avoided in Galilee. A squall was a fierce storm that has powerful winds and heavy rains. The word was used to describe cyclone type of activity and severe types of storms that rarely occurred in the Galilee region.
Luke further describes the storm as sudden. The storm came down upon them on the sea. The storm came swift and sudden with little warning. Storms would move into the region and pick up warm moist air from the Sea of Galilee. This gives storms a sudden burst of new power to fuel them. The storm descends and the stress levels start to rise.
One of the greatest problems with personal stress is that it comes during unexpected times. Stress tends to catch us off guard and throw us into a tailspin. There are many stressful situations that come our way that we have no control over.
Do you think Joseph expected to be sold into slavery by his brothers?
Do you think that Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego expected to face a fiery furnace?
Do you think that Moses expected to be caught between the Red Sea and the Pharaoh’s army?
Do you think the disciples expected Jesus to be crucified?
God often works His greatest miracles and accomplishes His greatest plans through the unexpected twists and turns of life.
Stress should never create distress
Everyone deals with stressful situations and circumstances but not everyone drops into a state of distress. Distress is a state of being mentally afflicted because of pain, anxiety or sorrow. The issue that we often face is that we do not find relief in our times of stress because we do not go to Christ.
The disciples find themselves is the middle of this fierce and sudden storm. The storm was so severe that the boat was being swamped. Between the heavy rain and high waves the boat was taking on water and the situation was quickly getting out of control. Luke states that the disciples were in great danger. The situation was very real and they were in peril.
Stress is the symptom of a deeper problem. The stress the disciples experienced flowed out of their sense of restlessness. They were either unable or unwilling to rest in the presence of Christ. They allowed their circumstances to rule their situation and missed the opportunity to see their faith at work.
The disciples fell into a sense of stress induced panic. They were aware of the danger and go into a panic. Notice they’re words – We’re going to drown. The problem was not their very real concern. The problem was not in the stress that they experienced. The problem was the panic. When we allow unexpected stress to continually overwhelm us, we grow restless. We start looking for our own solutions and stop waiting on God to deliver. We become restless when we refuse to let go of the problems and give them to God.
Jesus did not have a problem with the disciples coming to Him for help. His problem is with their state of panic. The problem is that the disciples didn’t go to Jesus sooner. We create larger problems the longer we wait to take them to Jesus. Jesus is willing, ready and able to help us in our times of stress. He is waiting for us to call on Him.
Seeking Jesus helps deal with stress
Jesus never leaves us to face the storm alone. There may be times that we feel like Jesus is nowhere to be found. In those times we need to be willing to rest in His care. We need to be willing to depend in His divine deliverance. When we feel least like giving things over to Christ, those are the times that we need to depend on Him the most. Stress relief is a process and little by little we gain a greater sense of peace each time we seek Jesus.
Seeking Jesus solves the panic
The moment that we seek Jesus, we begin to see the solution to our panic. When we let go of our panic, we begin to increase our peace. Stress stirs our spirits and creates restlessness within us. We cannot begin to experience rest until we seek Jesus and turn over our stress.
Seeking Jesus sanctifies our perspective
Sanctification is the process that we become more like Jesus. The more we seek Him during times of stress, the more our way of thinking changes. Jesus changes the way we view life by giving us His perspective. When we start looking at life through the eyes of Christ our clarity increases.
Seeking Jesus shows our position
When we seek Jesus during times of stress we are showing our position. He is the one in control, not us. We are showing that we are surrendered to His divine care. We show that we are giving our cares over to Him
Seeking Jesus signifies our provision
We need the power of Jesus to move in our lives during times of stress. Our need is already provided through Christ. When we seek Jesus when we are stressed we acknowledge His divine provision for our personal needs.
Seeking Jesus supports our peace
Seeking Jesus when the stress levels get high is one of the best ways to support a life of peace. Peace is the meshing of God’s strength with our human weakness.
Oh what peace we often forfeit, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Jesus offers relief to our stress
Sooner or later everyone is going to face stressful situations. Stress will be aggressive against our personal strength. It will choke the joy out of our hearts. It will seek to strip the contentment out of our spirit. Stress moves to overtake our lives and pull us down.
Our human strength alone will never be enough.
Grace is the inward power to do what is right. It is right for us to go to Christ and depend on his power. It is right to go to Christ in our need of rest. Christ gives us the grace to overcome times of personal stress.
The continual rush of life seems to add increased levels of stress and distress to our lives. In midst of the rush, in the middle of the rat race and in the scurry of our daily pace, God is calling. He calls not with thunder and flashes of lightening. He calls not with more of the things of our hurried lifestyles. Instead, He calls with something radical, something real and something refreshing. God’s call is not always heard because He shouts in quiet whispers to the soul. He shouts to us with a quiet call to pause, to stop the rush and take our foot from the accelerator of our routine. God shouts with His still, small voice to come away from the daily madness for a moment.
Stress is often caused by our unwillingness to be still, to be silent. Why do we struggle with stress? We simply forget God’s unending promise: be still and know that I am God. Sometimes the only way to overcome stress is to be still. It is in the stillness that God works and shows His power. The next time that you are feeling overwhelmed, overloaded or over extended; take just a few moments to be still and allow God to cover you in His presence and lift you up in His power.
Today, God is quietly shouting your name, will you pause? Are you willing to take the radical step and be still? God is waiting, God is calling. Will you answer?