Stop eating what’s eating you

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:

Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have. 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.

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. 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
  • Trust
  • Seek first
  • Pray
  • 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)

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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14 Responses to Stop eating what’s eating you

  1. jim- says:

    We got rid of tv in ‘97. I’ve basically become A-political and take no sides. There is very little truth to be found in tv, and even the Christian broadcasts I used to watch now and then only served knee jerk raises in blood pressure. The propaganda outweighs any benefit you might think you need to stay in the loop. It’s designed to divide.
    Humans being the gullible creatures that we are, cannot afford to use tv as white noise, all the while soaking in the unimportant and divisive rhetoric.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more on the divisive and unimportant white noise! We only watch tv for entertainment purposes, which is not often and certainly not for any useful information. I haven’t watched Christian tv in probably 20 years. I’m also very a-political. We originally got rid of the cable because of the commercials. I had already jettisoned 24-hour news before that. But definitely benefiting from the lack of white noise now.

  2. Ahhh, such a good post! Stop eating what’s eating you, indeed! Another way of saying that, “you are what you eat.” Not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually too! A good chunk of our Western ailments and afflictions really are directly related to stress. There’s science behind that, the chemicals released into our bodies during times of stress lower our immune system, mess with our digestion,and raise our blood pressure. Then we get stressed about our health and add to the stress!

    It’s not easy at all, this is a really hard thing for us to understand because we’ve been immersed in Western lifestyles and attitudes for so long and so we tend to compartmentalize our health and not understand that there is actually a mind, body, and spirit connection. Stress is also socially rewarded in our culture.

    I loved this part, “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.” Right? But it’s hard, we can get trapped there, we don’t always realize “we control the horizontal and the vertical,” like they used to say on the Twilight zone. 🙂

    • Oh,I forgot to mention there is also this thing called, “healthy stress.” Exercise for instance can be a healthy stress on your body. So can delight, surprise, and wonder. Some forms of risk, adventure, and getting our of your comfort zone, all healthy kinds of stress.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Oh,I forgot to mention there is also this thing called, “healthy stress….”

        Good point. Just like there’s healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs, when we exercise we’re actually putting our body under stress, which builds up its ability to handle stress. And living a life of adventure (which requires getting out of your comfort zone) releases chemicals in our joy center of the brain, which is also the part of our brain that has to do with having a healthy immune system.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Our Western lifestyle is literally killing us. My wife and I just finished a 19-day cleansing fast, which we do annually. No sugar, no (non-veggy) carbs, no processed foods, no red meat, only fish, turkey, and chicken. LOTS of good veggies and fruit (all on the alkaline side of the PH scale) and water. We also drank a mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar, cayenne, rosemary honey, pure lime juice, etc. in the morning (the “cleansing” part). Every time we go through this, I feel so much better, think clearer, and have more energy. It also cured my wife’s border-line diabetes! She has had normal blood sugar for several years now. And we normally eat pretty healthy: organic, low carbs, very little sugar, and no processed foods. Just shows how much we poison our body. Not to mention, our lack of exercise.

      A big amen on realizing that “we control the horizontal and the vertical.” This where we need to start learning how to capture some thoughts. Time to get out of the Twilight Zone! 🙂

  3. Wally Fry says:

    Good post, Mel. I can actually speak to this subject as lately I have substantial experience with stress-inducing things. Job loss, sickness, death have been dogging us for several months now. But, Do you know what? It’s all good so to speak. As things unfold I can see God’s hand in it, and how He is causing or allowing one thing to happen so that another thing that is more needful might be able to happen. You know, in a day I went from a fairly well paid mid-level manager to the lowest guy on the totem pole at a menial job. Yet, my family loves it. They say the change in my temperament has been astounding. I got to spend time with and take care of sick family, I have been more active at church. Haven’t missed a meal yet, either. God’s got this. Good post, and all true.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Great points, Wally. I can totally relate. Sometimes less is more! And I really think a lot of people are stressed out because they’re in the wrong job. I know I was. I was a corporate executive making way into six-figure income back in the early 90’s, but on a personal level it was the worst time in my life. I almost lost my marriage, family, and I was stressed out all the time. Then, praise God, I lost it all except my family and marriage! Yay! The last time I earned what I earn now as a pastor was in the late 80’s! But I’m far happier now. In the scheme of things, there’s no comparison. My life now wins, hands down. 🙂

      • Wally Fry says:

        Well, I am a slow learner I guess. I did lose a family over it some years back. This time I listened a bit closer. Oddly, all this has also allowed me to reclaim some of my relationship with that family too. God’s got this, Mel, if we only listen.

        • Mel Wild says:

          But you did learn. That’s what’s important. And praise God, there’s been some restoration going on, too. God is so patient and kind this way! There’s a whole lot of things I’ve learned very slowly, the hard way. As I said in my book, I came very close to losing my family, too. Either way, we eventually learn that His way is better. And sooner is better than later. 🙂

  4. Wonderful and convicting. Thank you!

  5. Pingback: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? | See, there's this thing called biology...

  6. Lily Pierce says:

    Love this! So true that we believe in Jesus but we don’t always believe Him!! I need to work on believing those scripture passages.

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