Do Christians experience more stress than non-Christians? Doesn’t Christ say that his yoke is easy, and his burden light? Does that mean things are going to be easier?
But don’t countless men of the Hebrew Scriptures wonder “Why do the wicked prosper?”? Don’t Jesus and Paul speak of suffering and sacrifice as essential attributes of following the Lord? Isn’t the path to hell a broad, easy road?
I feel bombarded right now. As Elaine and Jerry discussed…
Elaine: You look a little stressed.
Jerry: Oh I’m stressed!
Reality is this: Christians do face stress, lots of it. They probably face more stress than most non-Christians, if they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing. The difference between faithfulness and faithlessness is not stress, but anxiety!
Stress is the accumulation of factors that require your attention and energy. Anxiety is a psychological state that responds to stress with panic. If you think you have too much to do, and that causes you to lose heart, lose balance, lose sleep, that is anxiety. But if you think you have too much to do, and your attitude is, hey, God will work it all out, THAT is what Jesus is talking about, and that is the difference between faithfulness and faithlessness: Panic vs. Recognition of God’s sovereignty.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is so profoundly true. And it’s the hard times in my life when I am forced to come to grips with God’s position of authority that the truth of it comes alive. The command is to “be anxious for nothing”, and the peace of God “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”. God is in complete control in this situation, whatever it may be, and essentially, the matter is this: why should you place more trust in the environment in which you find yourself than the God who designed it?
A good example from Paul’s own life is this:
2 Corinthians 7:5-6a
For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us…
When I started writing, I had the comparison of being in the eye of a tornado. It’s the most intense area, yet there is equilibrium in the center. I don’t think that works as a good analogy though. The only good way to use a tornado as a metaphor is this: you’re in the tornado, you have no idea what it’s gonna do to you, just trust God. Perhaps it’s like a cat falling from a building. I’ve heard they tend to survive big falls because their body just relaxes. Except it’s not like that, because trusting in God isn’t a psychological trick to get the stress to go away!
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation…” (italics added)
See! You will have hard times…
“but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
You might get hurt. You might die. Other people you love and who love you might die. You might get let down. You might fail miserably. You may leave this world with the respect of no one except your dog! But you must take courage, Christ has overcome the world!
Sometimes when we don’t have enough,
we need to stop –
and realize what we already have.