I recently heard that two out of three visits to the doctor are stress related. As I was pondering that, I wondered about how simple the solution to this might be, even though it’s admittedly not easy.
Here’s what I mean. Aside from getting proper rest, good diet, and exercise, as believers we have the perfect solution—the peace of God that passes all understanding. Let’s look at this remedy a little closer.
First, we tend to confuse believing in Jesus with believing Him, so we have some cognitive dissonance to deal with here. For example, here’s something Jesus told us that we really don’t believe:
31 “Don’t worry and say, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 That’s what those people who don’t know God are always thinking about. Don’t worry, because your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. 33 What you should want most is God’s kingdom and doing what he wants you to do. Then he will give you all these other things you need. (Matt.6:31-33 ERV)
Jesus wasn’t serious about this, was He?
I have no trouble not worrying…that is, until there’s actually something serious to worry about…then all of sudden I turn into an unbeliever trying to save myself.
Then, there’s Paul’s advice that we really don’t take to heart:
6 Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. 7 And because you belong to Christ Jesus, God’s peace will stand guard over all your thoughts and feelings. His peace can do this far better than our human minds.
8 Brothers and sisters, continue to think about what is good and worthy of praise. Think about what is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. 9 And do what you learned and received from me—what I told you and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you. (Phil.4:6-9 ERV)
Okay, if we really heeded this passage, the very first thing we would do is stop watching Fox News….or CNN, or any other 24-hour news, for that matter. Unless you think it’s praiseworthy and honorable and beautiful to obsess over polarizing issues while watching talking heads go at it 24/7. I really don’t think it qualifies, do you? I would also include any other media of the same stripe.
This is one area where I’m doing better. We unplugged our cable about five years ago and it was one of the best things we’ve ever done. Stress immediately went down, peace soared. We watch what we want, when we want, on our Roku. I can find out what’s happening in the world in about five minutes and then return to a more productive occupation of my time….like enjoying beauty in nature and art, taking hikes in the woods, spending time with the people I hold dear….or just doing nothing in complete silence (really).
Here’s the deal. No matter what we tell ourselves to the contrary, we only actually believe what we practice. The rest is just a wishful self-deception that keeps us stuck in our comfort zone. (Heb.5:14; James 1:22)
The answer to whatever is eating us is to fast from them, which means jettison them from our life altogether. The antidote is found in the following words:
- Don’t worry
- Seek first
- Be thankful
- Let go
- Receive peace
So, Paul was serious about whatever is true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. Avoid whatever is not these things at all costs. Be brutally honest about where your focus has been and show it no mercy. Cut it out of your life.
Of course, some of you may have a job that puts you in a stressful situation. Then, if you believe this is where God wants you, find ways to receive His peace on the job, and learn to leave the stress behind when you go home.
One last thing. You can try doing all these things and still be stressed out. Why? Because the source of the problem is totally between your ears. The truth is, there’s no outside force that has this power over you…unless you allow it. And that’s the scary but beautiful thing about it….a life of overflowing, crazy peace is totally within your reach. After all, He lives in you.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)