September 13, 1989
Have you seen the latest T-shirt slogan? “STRESS - When your gut says “NO” and your mouth says “I’LL BE HAPPY TO!”
I can relate to that. In fact, I’d like to talk to whoever suggested “when you want something done, ask a busy person.” I’m a busy person and had to learn the hard way that “NO” is a tremendous stress-reliever.
One of the things that helped me was is a little self-analysis. Why do I say “I’ll be happy to” when the request is the last thing that would make me happy? Oh, but I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, do I? Or the job won’t get done if I don’t do it. And certainly, I want to be well thought of. Or this: It will be worth it... Horse feathers!
Another person suggested it would be interesting to study the life of Jesus Christ from the point of view of the pressures He was under. Perhaps THE STRESS-LIFE OF THE SON OF GOD would be a good title for a book. Personally, I see Him as a model for elimination of stress, at least this kind. But how did He do it?
Well, we could say that He knew whether or not saying NO would hurt anyone’s feelings. After all, He knew the thoughts of those He encountered. But I don’t think His insight into other’s needs was key.
We could say He had great capacity to do any and all jobs so it never occurred to Him to say NO; that it didn’t matter if He was loaded to the hilt with responsibilities. But I don’t think that was it either.
We could also say that He was not a people-pleaser, that His self-esteem did not depend on what others thought of Him. This idea may at least hit a little closer to the heart of His ability to meet pressure.
The real key is that Jesus had only one purpose in life: to please God. He didn’t let even personal desires, however pure they may have been, sway His commitment. For Him, nothing would be worth the stress of displeasing His Father. He said it Himself in several ways and on several occasions...
“I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me.” (John 8:42)
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.” (John 6:38)
“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” (John 5:30)
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.” (John 4:34)
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:38)
Doing the will of the Father certainly didn’t guarantee a discomfort-free life for Jesus. He was mocked, misunderstood, sweat blood in the garden of Gethsemane, and was eventually murdered. However Hebrews 12 says, “...that for the joy set before Him He endured the cross and despised the shame.” In other words, there is grace for that kind of stress.
Jesus, however, did not have to endure that first kind of stress mentioned, the one that we bring on ourselves by saying YES when inner convictions say NO. Jesus didn’t live that way. Instead, He followed the leading of the Spirit, making sure of God’s will by spending time alone with Him in prayer. He didn’t allow anyone else to govern His actions, only His Father.
So I’d like one T-shirt, please, as a reminder; but with a slight amendment: “STRESS - When God’s Word says NO and my mouth says WHY NOT!