It is Tuesday morning as I sit down to write this week’s blog. I am here alone, with coffee in hand and my computer in front of me. I feel stressed. I often feel stressed. If you know me personally, you may find that confession difficult to believe because I try not to wear all of my feelings on my sleeve. I don’t require special attention from everyone when I’m stressed so I therefore try to keep things under wraps as far as public consumption goes. In fact, the only reason I mention my feeling of stress to you today is in the hope that I can address the subject for your benefit.
I would begin with a plea to you not to say to me, “Stress? You think you have stress? Listen to what I have to deal with!” Since when did life’s struggles become a competition? Why is there always this need to one-up the person we are talking to? Have I missed out on the awards ceremony where they hand out trophies to the most stressed or most busy or the most burdened? (By the way, on a side note; there is a beautiful Lombardi Trophy currently residing in Philadelphia now.) Everyone has stressful things to deal with, which makes our conversation today, relatable to all.
Every job and every season of life carries with it its own unique stresses. In my lifetime I have served in our Armed Forces, worked many secular jobs, and have served as a pastor. I have been a child, a teenager, a young adult, a newlywed, a husband, and a parent. Our current season of life finds us with two adult children and a teenager. I can tell you that there have been, and continue to be, stresses unique to each job, situation, and child all along the way. The question is, how do we handle the stresses that accompany these things in life?
There’s a little saying among church folk that goes, “I’m too blessed to be stressed!” Allow me take a sip from my coffee while I roll my eyes. Sometimes I find these little clichés to be absolute fluffy nonsense. The implication is that if one is truly full of faith then stress will never be experienced. I challenge you to read the Psalms and tell me that King David was never stressed. Or read when the Apostle Paul exclaimed in 2 Corinthians 1:8 – “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life.” and tell me he experienced no stress.
I mentioned in my first blog post that engaging someone over coffee has the potential to make people slow down so that meaningful conversation can take place. I would also suggest that getting away for a quiet cup of coffee can facilitate the same thing personally. It helps one pause from the frantic speed of the stressed-out mind. It helps slow the engine down before one’s emotions become a runaway train. Now, coffee may not operate that way for you. Perhaps an evening walk around your neighborhood is more to your liking. Whatever helps you smoothly apply the brakes, once the careening mind is under control, you can begin dealing with the stress properly.
A favorite Psalm of mine, Psalm 46:10, reminds me, “Be still and know that I am God”. There are many times I can’t change a situation and that places stress upon me. There are other times when I know I must confront a situation and I don’t know how it’s going to turn out which, again, causes me great stress. In those times, I must slow myself down and place my hope in God. That’s not to suggest that I become inactive. There are situations where my hope in God is that He will aid me in confronting the situations I have been burdened to deal with. Yet, there are other times when the outcome is out of my control, and I must remember who is God and who is not. This is how I am blessed to handle my stress.
As the Lord would ordain it, while I was in the midst of writing this blog, I received a text from my son with a great word of encouragement. In part it read, “God isn’t done with us yet. Stand strong, breathe, keep your faith. He hasn’t forgotten us.” My son is away this week and had no idea how I was feeling on this Tuesday morning. That’s not the first time I have received a text or a phone call from someone “out of the blue” when I find myself slowing down enough to cry out to God for help. And so, we press on.
My encouragement to you this Friday (when this blog will actually post), is to find a moment of oasis, perhaps with a good cup of coffee, and pause enough to pull your thoughts together. Don’t run from your stress, but gather yourself and prepare to face it. More so, I would encourage you to put your trust in God. The Lord allows things into your life that you cannot handle by yourself. As you contemplate that Biblical truth, consider that the child of God can confidently declare, “I can do (in the sense of endure) all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
It seems that I have reached the bottom of my coffee cup. It’s time for me to go and pray. May you experience some tangible victories in your life in the coming week. Until next Friday, I bid you all adieu.