God’s View of Stress
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living
The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:23
Articles on stress and how to cope with it have proliferated like weeds in an unkept garden. And having read them, most people are about as satisfied as the farmer’s son who has to pull the weeds out of the garden. Like a mother’s kiss on a child’s skinned knee, they may help some, but often their uplift is temporary, more like a desensitizer than a real cure.
Having read more articles than I can keep track of, I see three basic secular approaches to handling stress. They include: 1. Alter or change your perception of a situation; 2. Learn how to relax and thereby cope with the stress; or 3. Medicate the problem–which medical doctors are quite freely doing as they dole out tons and tons of prescription drugs.
Writers talk about exercise, diet, and learning to put problems in perspective. These techniques are well and good, but the question which I always have is, “Where is God in relationship to the stress which confronts me?” “Has He turned and gone back to heaven, closing the door on the needs of my life, leaving me to fend for myself as best I can? Or rather do I–as a believer in Jesus Christ and as one who takes what Scripture says at face value–have resources to fight stress and help me cope with it in ways that go beyond what secular writers usually suggest?”
In other words, are there ways in which you as a believer can handle stress which separate you from your office mate or fellow workers who can’t draw on spiritual resources? Do I have to stop at the bottom of the check lists which most magazine articles give, or are there Scriptural principles which help alleviate stress, provided I follow them?
Guideline #1: Put stress to rest by getting God’s perspective. To do this you will probably have to back off from the situation which is creating stress and take a look at it in the perspective of your whole life. Often we are so close to the forest we can’t see the trees. When you stand from afar and look at something tall, it looks a bit taller than other things but nothing extraordinary; however, stand at the foot of something quite tall, and it seems that it towers to the heavens. So it is with our problems.
Go out on a dark night and look at the stars of the heavens and realize that the closest star, Alpha Centauri, is still 4 1/2 light years away when light is measured at the speed of 186,400 miles per second. Then realize that God knew exactly about the situation which is causing you stress long before the light from that star ever started its long journey through the heavens. When tomorrow comes, you will find that God is already there to welcome you. Nothing you have done has taken Him by surprise. Nothing escapes His knowledge or His control, so why allow the stress you face to overwhelm you?
Looking above helps you realize that what is so important now won’t amount to much by way of importance a hundred years from now. There is a line that says, “Remember, this too shall pass!” Put it in perspective. Vance Havner, the Baptist evangelist of a bygone generation, used to say, “Any bulldog can whip a skunk, but sometimes it just ain’t worth it.”
Fight stress by getting God’s perspective and what seems to be such a big issue may not really be so large after all.
Resource reading: Daniel 6:12-28.