Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Stressed? ................ Parables 064

Some people hate self-tests. Others like them. Personally, I found “How do you react to stress?” both revealing, and interesting. It was in a recent newspaper, and contained 20 questions with 1 - 4 self-rating scores.

The ratings went something like this:
1 - “never” = “non-productive and lacking stimulation”
2 - “sometimes” = “has a good balance and able to control and handle stress.
3 - “frequently” = “borderline tense”
4 - “always” = “a candidate for heart disease.”
It was revealing because it showed me some areas where my walk with God could improve; interesting because I noticed that each question was related to Biblical principles - principles that, if followed, would make stress much easier to manage.

Here are some samples from the test:

1) Do you try to do as much as possible in the least amount of time? Psalm 90 says “Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Ephesians 5 says “Be careful how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” The Bible teaches prayerful planning and being active, but not frantic cramming.

2) Do you become impatient with delays or interruptions? James 1 tells us to “consider it pure joy... when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” But we are also told to “press on” and overcome obstacles. The Bible teaches that interruptions and delays are controlled by God, and that He can use them for good in the lives of His people. We need to use them, not let them cause us to sin.

3) Do you always have to win at games to enjoy yourself? James teaches that we are to guard against selfish ambition, yet we are also to do our very best. Because of Christ, we can be “winners” in God’s sight, loved and accepted unconditionally by Him, and given all we need to do all He wants us to do. Therefore winning in games becomes unimportant.

The other 17 questions also relate to scriptural principles.

When a person fails the stress tests of real life, they find themselves irate, irritated, frenzied, worried, confused, unable to make decisions, flighty, and just plain frazzled. This is a violation of the kind of life that God intended. The test makes the point that the body suffers more from a stressed mind and emotions than it does from hard work.

The Bible says this too. In fact, His book was the original manual on the subject. It gives the cause of stress: unbelief and sin; and the one solution that works: Jesus Christ. He came to give inner peace to the stressed person, rest for the soul.

Jesus makes an invitation. “Come unto me you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” He knows that the load of life is hard. He lived here too. He bids the stressed to come to Him, and promises all who come that He will never turn them away.

The first load He removes is the burden of personal sin: “As far as the east is from the west - so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

Then He replaces it with a lighter burden: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and lowly in heart.....My yoke is easy, my burden is light.”

Doing HIS will, with His enabling power is far less stressful than doing OUR will without Him.

While not all stress can be eliminated, (we would become mashed potatoes) we need not carry it alone. Jesus can deal with stress at its source. He may take the load away. He may lighten it. He may give stronger “muscles” to carry it. Whatever He does, He will untie the knots and give peace.

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