Summary: Dealing with stress can be difficult. Paul gives us a glimpse of how to handle the issue of stress

When Stress Gets Tough

Acts 27:1-44

June 25, 2011

Morning Message

Stress is an ignorant state. It believes that everything is an emergency. ~Natalie Goldberg, Wild Mind

How many of you deal with some form of stress? Stress is one of the factors of life that we all deal with. Stress comes at us from a variety of directions and a variety of sources. There is no way to remove all of the stress factors from daily living. Stress has become one of the leading causes of physical and emotional breakdown. Stress can create the possibility for physical ailments such as heart problems, strokes and breathing issues. Stress can lead to emotional issues such as anxiety attacks, emotional breaks and intestinal problems.

WebMD sites some of the physical complications of stress

Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.

Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.

Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.

The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.

Definition of stress

a specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism.

physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension

a situation, occurrence, or factor causing this

Biblical Examples of stress

Abraham had an open confrontation with Lot

Moses was threatened to be stoned by the Israelites

David was forced to flee Jerusalem by an uprising led by his son Absalom

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo were thrown into the furnace

The disciples argued over who was the greatest

The failure of appropriately dealing with stress can be costly. Does the Bible give us a manner to help deal with stress and handle the onslaught of daily living? This morning we are going to examine one of the most stress filled times in the life of the Apostle Paul. If you have your Bibles with you, please open them to Acts 27. We are going to look at different parts of the entire chapter this morning.

Five lessons about stress from the Paul’s storm

Description of the storm

Luke describes this storm vividly with the word eurokludon. The Greek word that Luke uses to record this storm is unique. This is one of the only places in scripture that the word is used. Eurokludon is a compound word rooted in euro which means east wind and kludon which means to billow against, a violent agitation of the sea. Luke uses the same word to describe the storm that Jesus calms in Luke chapter 8. James also uses the word to describe how doubt impacts the lives of believers being driven like waves in the sea.

No matter how this storm is explored, it is massive, major and chaotic. The storm would have consisted of raging winds, pounding rain, and high waves. The impression that Luke gives is that the ship was beyond their ability to control. Some of the most stressful situations in life are much like this massive storm. They come from nowhere, strike hard and fast, leaving us feeling lost. The emotional turmoil from dealing with the rage of economic winds can be immense. The feeling of hopelessness pounds emotionally. The relentless nature of ongoing stress wears us down and takes a heavy toll.

Stress is often created in the grind of daily living (6-9)

6 There the centurion found an Alexandrian ship sailing for Italy and put us on board. 7 We made slow headway for many days and had difficulty arriving off Cnidus. When the wind did not allow us to hold our course, we sailed to the lee of Crete, opposite Salmone. 8 We moved along the coast with difficulty and came to a place called Fair Havens, near the town of Lasea. 9 Much time had been lost, and sailing had already become dangerous because by now it was after the Fast. So Paul warned them,

Moving prisoners over great distances usually required sea travel. While there were many different land routes that led to Rome, the long journey would take months. There was a desire to get Paul and the other prisoners to Rome as quickly as possible. The problem was simple; time was growing short for safely navigating the turbulent waters of the Mediterranean. Winter was the worst possible time to travel on the sea and they were swiftly approaching turbulent times.

As Luke records the events that unfold here, one theme seems to be continually present – slow going. Notice the words that Luke uses: sailed slowly, with difficulty, wind did not permit us, and when considerable time had passed. The ship is not making any time and time was something that they could not spare. The weather was already getting difficult for sea travel but the desire to get the prisoners to Rome overruled caution. The ship was having great difficulty making any time heading for Rome. There was going to be no way of reaching Rome before winter. Instead of staying in the port the crew takes the risk of heading to Phoenix.

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