Summary: Stress is a common emotion in every person’s life, but God said we should not allow it dominate our lives and gave us, in the life of Jesus, an example of how to deal with the anxieties and worries that bring stress into our lives.
OPEN: An elderly mountain farmer had been involved in an accident between his mule-drawn wagon and an car driven by another man. Now, the farmer was suing the driver, claiming personal injuries as a result of the accident.
When the farmer was on the stand, the attorney for the driver of the car "Tell me sir, isn’t it true that after the accident, you said that you never felt better in your life?"
"Well," the farmer began, "that morning I got up, hitched up my mule to the wagon, and put my hound dog in the seat beside me and I started on down the road…”
The lawyer interrupted "Please, just give me a simple yes or no answer to the question"
At this point the judge stepped in and directed the lawyer to let the farmer have his way in answering the question.
"Well," the farmer began again, "that morning I got up, hitched up my mule to the wagon, put my hound dog in the seat beside me and I started on down the road… and I jest got over the rise of the road when this big car barreled into my rear end. My mule was knocked to one side of the road, my dog to the other and I was pinned under the seat.
Directly, a policeman came along, seen my mule had its leg broke, pulled out his pistol and shot him dead. He went over to my dog, seen it was hurt real bad, and shot it in the head."
"Then, he came over to me and asked, ’Well, how are you feeling?’ and, shore nuff, I said I never felt better in my whole life."
APPLY: Anxiety has an effect on how we view life and how we respond to the stresses of life. That gun in the policeman’s hand made the farmer an anxious man and he responded accordingly. Now, what we’re going to talk about today is anxiety and worry, and the stress that usually accompanies it.
I. Stress …
Question: How many of you have ever experienced stress? (the majority of hands shot up). Stress is something that happens to just about all of us. It kind of sneaks up on you, but you know when you’ve got it. There’s a tenseness in your body… the muscles tighten up and you are not in a peaceful state of mind. If this keeps up long enough, you can become irritable and possibly even experienced fatigue and sleeplessness.
Stress comes onto us whenever we feel that we’ve lost control of a situation. Whenever we get in a hurry - worried we can’t get where we want, when we want to. Or whenever we’re under a deadline, and we just know that if we don’t put an immense amount of effort into meeting that deadline, we won’t get it done. Or when we’re threatened with the loss of something we regard as valuable and we’re not sure we can avoid the loss.
Stress comes naturally to all of us. But if we repeatedly experience anxieties & worry and get stressed out, these emotions can have a terrible effect upon us.
Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down…”
ILLUS: According to a medical report back in 1998, Dr. Herbert Benson at the Harvard Medical School believed that “60 to 90 % of doctor visits are for stress related diseases – including hypertension, infertility, insomnia, and cardiovascular disease.”
ILLUS: Dr. Charles Mayo once observed: "Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands, the whole nervous system. I have never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from doubt."
II. SO, what does the Bible tell us to do about stress & anxiety?
· Paul writes: Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God Philippians 4:6
· Peter wrote: Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
· And, of course, Jesus said: I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)
· Jesus goes on to say “do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)
Anxiety and worry come naturally to us. But as Christians God says that this attitude should not be allowed to control us. AND SO, God commands us to recognize the sources of stress & anxiety in our lives and deal with them - His way.