I was watching one of those ‘Cops’ reality shows the other day and there was a story of a disgruntled truck driver causing a disturbance in a local shopping centre. Furious and frustrated, he had to be forcefully detained by complex security guards as the police hurriedly made their way there. He was calmed down at the scene and escorted outside where he was asked to explain his actions. With tears escaping from this grown and gruff man’s eyes, he painfully described the stress and strain that led him to breaking point...a faulty mobile phone and the apparent apathy of the mobile phone store owner.
What was amazing was watching this seemingly sound and mature man totally deconstruct as he unloaded about the stress and turmoil this uncooperative piece of technology and its salesman had caused him.
An ambulance had to be called.
Sustained stress does the most catastrophically damaging things to the human heart, mind and soul. I am not talking about the normal irregular stresses of life (unexpected bills, health crisis, work projects etc.), but sustained, habitual, always-on-my-mind, strung-out stress that is all too common in this ultra-high paced world we live in. The type of stress that has you rhetorically respond to the question “how are ya doin’?” with “busy and tired.”
- The type of stress that robs your heart of peace and joy…
- The type of stress that robs your head of hair and sanity…
- The type of stress that robs your life of health and time…
That type of stress.
Yet, there is good news.Philippians 4:4-7 (read)
Jesus seeks to be a guard for your heart and your mind. He seeks to keep you in perfect peace. (Isaiah 26:3). Not ‘detached from reality, denial, eastern religion transcendence, hum-hum-hippie peace’, but real peace in the storm peace.
- Real ‘my kids have gone crazy peace’.
- Real ‘I don’t know how we are going to make ends meet peace’.
- Real ‘I got my test results back and it’s not good peace’.
- Real ‘My work is a skirmish and home is a full-scale war peace’.
Peace is His promise, but there is usually a process we must first walk out in a faith-filled and faithful manner.
Remember God is near…vs.5 “The Lord is near…”
- What do you find are areas of consistent stress?
- On a scale of 1-10, one being a ‘so-chilled-i-am-one-notch-above-comatose’ and 10 being ‘I-am-just-about-to-have-a stress-related-heart attack’, where are you on the stress scale?
Not around, in the vicinity going to pop in soon…but near.
Bring God into the situation…vs.6 “by prayer and petition…”
- What are practical steps we can take to keep ourselves aware of this mind-boggling fact in the midst of our pressured and stressed lives?
- What are the major factors that rob us of this amazing and humbling reality? How do we nullify these factors?
Habitual prayer is a great antidote to habitual stress, for prayer affirms our dependence on God, displays humility and invites God into the middle of your situation.
Thank Him…vs.6 “with thanksgiving…”
- Why do you think many church surveys show an overwhelming belief that prayer is pivotal to the Christian experience yet the average Christian’s exercise of the discipline is so underwhelming?
- How does prayer actually make a difference in the way we maintain stress levels throughout the day?
- Do you actually believe what you just answered?
Praise Him for His goodness and faithfulness and the things of this earth (including the small stresses) will indeed grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. Praise restores perspective.
He is good. He always has been. He is. He always will be.
Leave it and trust Him to move…vs.6 “present your requests…”
- What effect does praise have on stress? Why?
- How many things can you list to be thankful to God for in 1 minute?
- How do we develop a spirit of thanksgiving in our lives?
Letting go of your total responsibility and inter-depending on God is a real key to overcoming habitual stress. There is only so much you can do in your own strength and that isn’t really much, so I will choose to trust in the Faithful One.
Application…so where to from here? Something I will do this very week with God’s help...cause He knows I need it!!
- What do you think inter-depending means? (I thought I made up the word but my spell checker didn’t pick it up…)
- What is our responsibility and what is God’s responsibility in the whole scheme of our sometimes stress filled lives?