For “Scripture Sunday”:
5 Keys for Handling Stress
“How can we cope with the increasing stresses of our modern world? God’s Word provides answers.
Everyone experiences it. No person of sound mind gets through life without facing it. Like it or not, stress is part of everyone’s life. As comedy writer Jane Wagner quipped, “Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it.”
Whether we’re young people trying to learn about life and find a way to be successful or adults trying to survive and navigate our complex world, we all have our lists of concerns and things to worry about.
And if we don’t have enough on our own lists, we live in a world filled with life-threatening chaos. Will or won’t North Korea attempt to use a nuclear weapon? Will the civil war in Syria ever come to an end? Will the U.S. and Russia ever see eye to eye? How long before the unrelenting tension in the Middle East ignites another full-scale war? Will we be innocent victims of crime?
The website of the American Institute of Stress (AIS) says, “There are numerous emotional and physical disorders that have been linked to stress including depression, anxiety, heart attacks, stroke, hypertension, immune system disturbances that increase susceptibility to infections, a host of viral linked disorders ranging from the common cold and herpes to AIDS and certain cancers, as well as autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
“In addition stress can have direct effects on the skin (rashes, hives, atopic dermatitis), the gastrointestinal system (GERD, peptic ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis) and can contribute to insomnia and degenerative neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. In fact, it’s hard to think of any disease in which stress cannot play an aggravating role or any part of the body that is not affected. … This list will undoubtedly grow as the extensive ramifications of stress are increasingly being appreciated” (“Stress Effects”).
Research confirms that stress affects us both physically and mentally.
Stress prophesied to increase
Some 2,000 years ago the Bible predicted that stress would increase as humanity entered the end times—the time that begins just before the return of Jesus Christ to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth. Writing to Timothy, his beloved protégé in the ministry, Paul said, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” (2 Timothy 3:1, emphasis added throughout).
This phrase, “perilous times,” is translated variously as “terrible times,” “grievous times,” “times of trouble” and “difficult times.” Reflecting the effects this time will have upon people, the marginal note in the New King James Version describes it as “times of stress.”
What Paul was explaining to Timothy was a concept that had previously been addressed by Daniel, Jeremiah and Jesus. Centuries before Paul, God had revealed through Daniel that there would come “a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation” (Daniel 12:1). Subsequent verses in this passage show that this would be the state of affairs preceding the resurrections, which occur at and after Christ’s return (compare verses 2-3 with 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and Revelation 20:4-5).
The prophet Jeremiah wrote of a “time of Jacob’s trouble” when the descendants of Abraham would face difficulties so severe that men would have pale faces and act like women in labor (Jeremiah 30:7). Though this prophecy is directed toward the descendants of the ancient Israelites, this time of difficulty will not be limited to these peoples.
As Christ explained, before He returns, the entire world will experience “great tribulation” and be threatened with total extinction (Matthew 24:21-22). The escalating effects of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, representing false prophets, war, famine and disease (compare Matthew 24:5-8 and Revelation 6:2-8), along with this “great tribulation” will bring unprecedented times of stress.
Five keys for dealing with stress
While humans have always faced stress (see “Stressful Experiences for God’s People), stress in the end time is clearly going to increase. So how are we to navigate these difficult times ahead? Thankfully, the Bible gives us five strategies for dealing with stress in our lives today as well as for when even more difficult times come.”
Coping With Anxiety.
“The anxiety and worry we may feel in this stressed society seem to only make our other problems worse. Is there anything positive we can do?
There are plenty of things to worry about these days: Where can I find a job? How am I going to be able to pay my bills? Will we lose our home? Will I ever be able to retire? In what kind of world will my children grow up?
How is your life going? Are you trying to cope with more stress and anxiety than ever? Do you feel overwhelmed, like you are unable to even catch your breath? Perhaps you feel that you’re trying to fight off discouragement.
Of course, we hope your life is going well; but considering the global economic fallout that began in 2008, more people than ever are suffering from high stress levels—and it seems to be coming from even more directions.
Thousands of people are faced with very serious illnesses, in some cases terminal. The number of older couples who now have grown-up children moving back home because of a job loss or broken marriage is on the rise. Still others are coping with the health issues and needed care of aging parents.
According to an article in Forbes magazine in March of 2012, 60 percent of current college graduates are unable to find work in their chosen field. In fact, after spending the time and money for a college education, many recent graduates have had to settle for jobs that don’t even require a college degree. Many studies show this trend is not likely to turn around quickly, adding even more pressure and anxiety to what so many are already laboring under.
Positive vs. negative stress
A certain amount of stress is normal, healthy, even stimulating. It can make us work harder, think more deeply and be more creative and alert to new possibilities and solutions. When confronted by a demanding situation, we may feel excited and energized to meet the challenge and persevere. Studies show that facing positive stress and working our way through it leads to a greater degree of satisfaction with life and an enhanced sense of well-being.
But too much stress—where problems are coming at us faster and with more intensity than we can handle them or where they are bigger than any solutions we have for them—is not healthy. At that point, stress can turn into anxiety, discouragement, despair or even hopelessness.
King Solomon understood the impact of too much stress when he wrote, “Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad” (Proverbs 12:25). Also, “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken” (Proverbs 15:13).
Under normal circumstances, most of us are able to cope with the trials and struggles of life. It is a part of everyone’s life and just something we must all work our way through. The first part of Proverbs 18:14 says, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness,” and that is so. A normal level of optimism and clear thinking will helps us navigate regular troubles.
But that changes when the problems are huge and seeming to come in droves. Trials that linger for long periods of time also tax our emotional reserves until we feel that we have nothing left. The last part of Proverbs 18:14 says, “…but who can bear a broken spirit?” The broken spirit—out of options, out of time and out of the emotional energy to continue the fight—is what leads us to spiral down into discouragement.
Paralyzed by discouragement
When problems get really severe and our emotional reserves are depleted, we may lose all desire to do anything to improve our situation. We become mentally, emotionally and spiritually paralyzed.
Solomon also wrote, “A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 17:22, emphasis added throughout). The broken spirit feels there is no help available, has no energy and no ideas for how to improve. And, as a result, someone facing this level of anxiety and depression may end up just doing nothing to improve or cope with things.”
Jesus Christ knew the severe anxiety, pressure and stress His disciples were going to face. He told them they would have persecution in the world, and that mankind in general would not listen to or readily accept the message they were to teach. But, in order to prevent them from becoming paralyzed by fear and discouragement, He told them, “These things I have spoken to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Take no anxious thought
Jesus Christ told His disciples not to allow worry and anxiety to take over their lives and thoughts.”
Well, I haven’t heard from the man who made the offer on my house except for an online agreement, which I signed with my mouse, now that’s a first! They are supposed to do an inspection, and that might give them an excuse to back out, but anyway, I have to be ready to close on the 7th. August 2017, in case it goes through.
So we haven’t put the new canvas canopy on the RV carport, as that can be done later as we will have to move that carport anyway. Roy was off for Father’s Day, and on Monday, it was back to work on the mini-house. We gave up on fixing the chrome ceiling fan/light by taking the whole thing down and installing the white one out of the big house living room. Then we installed another one that I don’t like very much in the big house living room.
Tuesday, we had to do something to the yard. The ratty old mower started at first pull again, and so Roy quickly ran it around. The electric hedge clippers started at first pull of the finger, too, so the hedge looks better now. Then we stapled up the welded wire fencing on the cross boards of the patched repaired fence, so critters can’t get in or out. There was a space and I said to Roy that a Chihuahua could get out. He said “You don’t have a chihuahua”, so I said “ I didn’t when I rescued Marla or Paco or Peanut, but you never know when I might have one”. Such is the life of an SPCA Foster Mom!
I am happy to say that my shy little foster cat that belonged to the late Roni, “Puddin”, is now out of our SPCA cat habitat at Petco. She is just too shy and stayed in the little cave area, so no one adopted her because they couldn’t see her. She is so happy to be back home, and I am happy to have her back here. As you can see, lots of ‘happiness’ here.
Back in the mini-house, we have been concentrating on getting the walls ready for paint. For two mornings Hans came with his belt sander and got the top trim ready for installation. So on Friday Roy nailed it up as it will be painted the same color as the walls, a very pale yellow like the rest of the place. Then today, Sunday, Roy did some more floating and I was going ahead of him giving any protuding staple or nailheads an extra whollop. Then I was measuring in the kitchen to see where to build in the microwave and toaster oven. Then I measured the walls for furniture placement. I still don’t know how much of my furniture will go in the mini-house.
On the Sabbath, I went back to my morning church on FM 1097. The Bible readings were Num. 4:21-7:89, Judges 13:2-25, John 7:53-8:12. One of the ladies, Travel, (yes, that is her name) has been in Georgia for a while and she and her brother, a pastor, are visitng, so he gave the Message. Three quarter way through the service, at the time for the Message, I needed to help the pastor’s wife in the kitchen, and even though the Message was piped in there, he was very difficult to understand as he had a thick accent, so I missed most of it.
I had made Chicken, Brown Rice and Veggies, and Roasted Yellow Squash for the potluck. But the Pièce de Résistance was the home made challah bread that Travel brought, and very tasty and tender was the brisket that the pastor and his wife brought.
We all had a great time talking and chatting away in the dining hall with Travel and her brother Willie. We haven’t seen them for a while so it was a great, but rainy day.