You Asked For It – How To Keep From Stressing Out

Introduction:
To say I don’t suffer with stress would be to ignore the realities of life. Being the pastor of a church certainly provides its fair share of stresses. And just for emphasis, lets not forget the added stress my family has to endure. Stress reveals what’s inside of us, and can overtake and overcome you to the point you lose control of things you normally have control over: your thought processes and behaviors. It damages others as you allow outside influences to lessen your “self control.” What are some of the stress areas in your life? To be honest, when we are stressed out with people and life in general, the last thing we want to do is to be told to stop worrying, or to pray, thank God and think about the right things.

Something To Talk About:
But that’s just the four things I must do if I want the peace of God to guard my heart and my mind. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your mind.” As we talked about during Sunday’s message, here are the four things to work on related to stress.

  1. Worry about nothing or as Paul says, don’t worry about anything. Corrie Ten Boon said “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” I simply don’t have any time to waste these days. And worrying is a waste of very precious time. Worrying won’t help you solve a problem or bring about a solution, so why waste your time and energy on it? So don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything.”
  2. Pray about everything, or as Paul says, tell God what you need. There is nothing you can’t pray about. James 5:11 (MSG) says, “God cares, cares right down to the last detail.” Guard against any cynicism, or ignorance that keeps you from coming to God with your biggest and littlest needs. Everything we experience, God cares about right down to the smallest things. Take it to God. No problem is too big or small for God.
  3. Thank God for all things, or as Paul says, thank Him for all He has done. Are you thankful no matter what? Perhaps you have lost your job recently, as the economy has continued to struggle. Or you may have lost your health, or a loved one. Such circumstances can be tremendously difficult. But even so, we all have much to be thankful for. In fact, thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that is attuned to God. The psalmist declared, “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving” (Psalm 147:7, NIV). 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Learn to count your blessings rather than count your trials.
  4. Think about the right things. Instead of filling our minds with distressing, anxious thoughts, we are taught to concentrate on those things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. We grow like our thoughts; we cannot entertain impure thoughts without becoming corrupt, and we cannot think good thoughts without becoming pure. Romans 12:2 says, “ Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Questions:

  1. How is it possible to not worry about anything?
  2. Is stress causing you to endure life rather than enjoy it?
  3. How do you usually deal with stress? Is it helpful? Why or why not?
  4. How would your life be different if you dealt with stress and pressure effectively?
  5. What do you think is God’s design for dealing with stress? How might praying about everything help? How would thankfulness for what God has done help us find peace?
  6. How does “God’s peace” differ from human peace? What does a peace that “exceeds anything we understand” look like? Is peace in the midst of pressure, a promise or a possibility? Why?
  7. What are some pressures you are facing that prayer and thankfulness would help alleviate?

Take One Thing Home with You
Many of us live our lives with the belief or premise that says, “I can control my world, I can fix what’s broken.” This idea or premise usually leads to higher levels of stress because so much of life is out of our control and broken. If you try to control your world by working like crazy and try to control all the uncontrollable aspects of life, there is no surer way to have your stress levels grow exponentially. As Christians, we understand that we were born into a broken world full of sin. We also know we have a God who loves us.

Bottom line is this: We are stressed because we forget that. Trying to live a life without God is a flawed premise. Without Him, we are on our own, and success in coping with stress is almost impossible. Stress will increase and put all the pressure on us to be our own god. And since we’re not, we will struggle all our life with pressure and the stress it produces. Only God can give us the peace we are looking for. “For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?” – Isaiah 14:27

I believe we can live stress free in a stressful world, but it will require some decisions—possibly some radical decisions. First of which is the premise that we can go it alone. Allow God’s Spirit to lead you out of a stressful lifestyle and into one of peace and joy. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:27