In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33
What’s easier to remember--the last time you had an afternoon off when nothing was really planned, or the last time you reached for the Tylenol because you had a horrible headache? Chances are about 10 to 1, you remember reaching for the Tylenol. The source of that tension‑headache which made you snarl at the kids and grouch at your spouse wasn't necessarily organic. It doesn't mean you have a brain‑tumor or need to see a neurologist. Your headache, however, was a red flag. It signaled stress as your nervous system screamed, "Help! I'm overloaded. I just can't handle this."
The problem is STRESS, which in simple terms is physical and emotional weariness caused by overloading your system with the wear and care of life.
Stress is what you feel when your teen‑age daughter comes in and announces, "I’m engaged!" Stress is what you feel when there is too much month at the end of your money. Stress is what you feel when you miss a flight and the next plane arrives after the wedding. Stress is what you experience when you look up and see a blinking red or blue light in your rearview mirror. Stress is what you feel when you have an appointment and there is no gas in the car because your son used it the night before. Stress is what you feel when you are in the military and you get passed over for promotion.
Everybody knows what it is today, whether he lives in Tampa or Tokyo. Eighty-percent of workers say they feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning to manage stress and 42% say their co-workers need help with stress!
To make it personal, finish this sentence. Stress is what I feel when.... That brings it home. How would you finish this sentence? “Stress is what I feel when...." No age group is immune from the problem, whether it is kids on a playground or seniors who struggle with insufficient income or the loss of a mate.
I'd like to make something clear when talking about stress: All stress is not bad. Stress causes the tension which holds the suspension bridge over the raging waters. Stress on the strings of the violin allows the beautiful melody to come from the fingers of the master as the bow glides across the strings. Stress causes the drums to resonate to the beat of the drummer. But, of course, too much stress causes the bridge to collapse, the strings of the violin to snap and the drumhead to burst.
Most people, however, operate better and are far more productive with some stress. The problem is not stress, but too much stress. Many of us are competitive by nature, and we are going to go for it. Like the goalie in the World Cup who knows he's going to be under tremendous stress; the entire game may depend on his stopping the ball from going into that net, but his mother or the Apostle Paul couldn't keep him from heading out on that field for the big game. He's going to go for it, and at times, so are you.
In the Upper Room discourse of John 16:33 Jesus told the disciples, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." And the word Jesus used, thlipsis, includes stress. Psalm 9:9 tells us: “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Yes, in the world you will have stress, but you don't have to be overcome by it.
Sometimes God uses stress to get our attention. He created bodies to send us messages like, “Slow down and rest.” Pain is God’s megaphone,” C.S. Lewis said. Sometimes He uses stress to help us reset our priorities.
Ours is the God of whom the Psalmist also said, “He daily bears us up” (Psalm 68:19) Run to Him in times of stress!
Resource reading: John 16:1-15.
By Bonnie Sala