“STRESS OR DISTRESS” By: Kenny Burtch (2 PETER 1:3-4) (2 CORINTHIANS 4:8-12)
We have all experienced days of “Stress.” Most likely not to the extent that the Apostles experienced, but we have had those days, and times, WHEN NOTHING GOES RIGHT! I love (2 Peter 1:3-4)! You see, I believe the Bible when it says there is a reward waiting for the faithful Christian in Heaven. I believe that! I believe in the fact that we will UNDERSTAND IT ALL BY AND BY! I believe that!
But, you know, being human I need some help and instruction here in this life. I need that “hope,” that the Bible talks about. I need that “Faith,” that the Bible talks about. I need that “Assurance,” that God is directing my steps. I need the “Peace of Mind,” that assures me that I am not being led astray by false teaching (1 John 4:1-3) that is leading me to a dry pond after I get all my “Ducks,” in a row. Well, Peter says that God has given us ALL THINGS THAT PERTAINS TO LIFE AND GODLINESS. So, not only do I know I need those things, but God knows it too. So, what do we do when “Tough,” days invade our lives? Well, allow me to suggest something that we do not do through the life of an 8 year old boy named, Alexander.
Here is how his day began: “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there is gum in my hair, and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard, and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running! And, I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” Then, Alexander has a terrible day at school. The teacher loved Mary’s picture of the house and trees, but she did not like Alexander’s picture of the invisible battleship. Then he had a horrible visit with the dentist, and a no good stop at the shoe store … and it didn’t get any better! There was lima beans for dinner, and I hate lima beans! There was kissing on TV, and I hate kissing. My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain, and I had to wear my Panda-bear pajamas, and I hate my Panda-bear pajamas! When I went back to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep, and my Mickey Mouse night light burned out, and I bit my tongue when I stuck it out at Nick. Now, the cat wants to sleep with Nick, not with me. It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” It’s really no wonder that little Alexander sighed at the end of the day, and said, “I think I’ll move to Australia.” Well, I have news for Alexander, and for us. “No good, Horrible, very bad days, also happen in Australia!”
Actually, stress is inevitable and some kinds of stress are constructive. However I want us to look at “STRESS THAT TURNS INTO DISTRESS.” David Stoop, in his book, “Self-Talk,” has made some very interesting observations: 40 Million Americans suffer from allergies; 30 Million suffer from sleeplessness; 25 Million are afflicted with hypertension (High Blood Pressure) 20 Million have ulcers – All resulting from “STRESS THAT LEADS TO DISTRESS.” According to Medical Research. 75 to 90% of all illnesses are caused by the stresses of modern day life. I believe that is true, However, I believe it is more of HOW we respond to these Modern-Day stresses. Until we humans learn to deal with the stresses of our day – in ways that honors our Creator, we are truly looking ahead to more of these horrible, no good, very bad days! The Apostle Peter wrote, to Christians, that God has given us all things that pertain to “”Life and Godliness.” Because of that I would like to SUGGEST a formula, and I put a strong emphasis on that word “Suggestion,” from God’s Word, on how to handle that Stress that can lead to Distress:
(1). WE MUST DEVELOP A PROPER PERSPECTIVE TOWARD GOD” Now, how you do that I am going to leave that up to you. This is just what I try to do on a daily basis. Actively praise him when you get up in the morning, and when you go to bed at night. Sing songs to Him whenever possible (Psalm 59:16) “But I will sing of your power; Yes I will sing aloud of your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.” (My singing “Jesus Loves Me,” at the commons because the traffic was backed up). At night I have my own prayer that I try to close my day with: “Father, this day you gave me has come to a close. For better, or worse I have tried to live my best as a Christian. For my successes I give you the honor. For my mistakes, I ask for your forgiveness. But, for better or worse, I give this day back to you, and pray I will do my best tomorrow by having learned from those mistakes according to Your Word.”
(2). WE MUST DEVELOP A PROPER PERSPECTIVE TOWARD SELF. Christians ought to have a personal sense of an “Eternal Destiny.” In the long ago, Job asked, “If a man dies, shall He live again?” Jesus answers Job’s question with a resounding YES! (John 14:1-3). Jesus is saying to us today that a home has been prepared for us in heaven! These early Christians understood that this life was not the end of all things. They knew, and believed that there was something much greater to come! (Hebrews 11:13-16). Yes, their disappointments were great! Their sorrows were at times overwhelming! Their persecutions for their faith in Christ brought both sorrow, and pain into their lives ON A DAILY BASIS! But they believed the teaching of the scriptures “For our light and momentary affliction is achieving for us and ETERNAL glory that far out weighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17) “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
(3). WE MUST DEVELOP A PROPER PERSPECTIVE TOWARD OTHERS. (Philippians 2:1-5).
“Six human beings trapped by happenstance in bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood, or so the story’s told.
Their dying fire in need of logs, the first man held his back,
For the faces round the fire He noticed one was black.
The next man looking “Cross the way,” saw one not a member of the Church;
And couldn’t bring himself to give the fire his stick of birch.
The third one sat in tattered clothes. He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his stick be put to use to warm the idle rich?
The rich man just sat and thought, of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned, from the lazy shiftless poor.
The black man’s face bespoke revenge, as the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood, was a chance to spite the white.
The last man of this forlorn group, did nothing except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave was how he played the game.
Their sticks held tight in death’s still hand was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without, they died from the “Cold within.”
I could go on and talk about “Developing a proper perspective toward time” I could go on and talk about “Developing a proper perspective about Death, Sickness and Disease.” But time will not allow me. These are things that each of us MUST develop for ourselves because of our individual lives.
But my thoughts in closing this lesson is this: First, if Stress is not going to develop into Distress in our lives, then we need to study what God has given to us. And, Secondly, Pray to God that He will help you in the midst of your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days BESIDES IT WOULD BE PRETTY EXPENSIVE TO MOVE TO AUSTRALIA!