Sunday, May 27, 2012

Achieving Stress

"Even though I walk through the
valley of of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil
for you are with me...

                                                                                                  Psalm 23:4

Can we generate personal stress? Sure, and I have, over the years, managed to create some magnificent moments of stress. However, checking my Bible concordances to write a blog, I could not find the word "stress". I could find examples of stressful situations, but not that specific reference.

In today's world it is virtually impossible to avoid stress. It is part of our lifestyle and we seek relief in a multitude of ways. In the Old Testament book of Job, we find Job crying out, "The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me." Every day life seems to be worse now than when I was young. That doesn't mean it didn't exist back then - in the Great Depression people were losing everything they had - money, homes, job,  health, family tensions and fear of the unknown. For some the solution might have been so extreme that they would jump off high buildings to escape the stress they endured in life. That kind of stress still exists, but people now try to find a solution to their tensions from self-help books, therapy, time-management workshops, massage parlors, guru's, and recovery programs. Then there are those who try to handle stress with drinking and drugs. For many, nothing seems to work. I have a hunch part of it is wrapped up in 21st Century lifestyles, loud and wildly upbeat music, stress-filled reality television and movies, and trying to keep up with the neighbor.

I know what it is like. I've been down that road. One time I was taking a solid schedule of college courses, refurbishing an old house, and working a full time job, all at the same time. Suddenly I was hit with laryngitis from stress and had to back off from non-essentials. There was a time when I was on a Navy aircraft carrier on crisis readiness not knowing whether the next day would bring war. Trying to support a family when there never seemed enough resources brought considerable stress.

But then I found an amazing strength filling my soul. I prayed to God for relief - for His Spirit to give strength and comfort in day-to-day life. Most of us have to come to grips with the reality that, by ourselves, we do not handle stress well. We need more than human resources. We need to have faith, and trust in God. Jesus said, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls..." (Matthew 11:28-30)

I don't say I am immune from stress, for I still contend with inner turmoil and deep concerns most every day...illness...aging. . financial questions....welfare of the world....situations in my family.
But faith and a very deep trust in God's power and love goes a long way toward  a sense of
peace and assurance.  Stress is still there - always there - but the Spirit of God makes life a whole lot better. I speak from experience.

Lord God:
Forgive me when I cry out, "Why me, Lord?"
Instead fill my heart with assurance
that I have a guide and counselor
in every need of life.

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