Topic: Managing stress
Focus: ‘Stress’ versus ‘walking free’
Psalm 55:22 (NKJV) Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.
During frequent visits to the office of a good friend of mine, I see a comical picture hanging on her bulletin board. It’s one of those black and white photocopied classics printed on ordinary 8 ½ X 11 paper. The picture looks like the work of a child or someone with limited artistic skill. It’s a drawing of a person whose stressed out face looks crazy—as in ‘insane’, but in a funny kind of way. There is a scrawled handwritten message below the drawing that says: “You’re just jealous because the voices only talk to me”. I have to smile every time I see it.
That might make you wonder a little bit—but, let me explain. You see, the picture reminds me of ‘me’—when I allow stress to enter my mind. It also reminds me that I often take myself–and my circumstances way too seriously.
The person in the picture looks psychotic, and yet, isn’t that what stress will do to us if we let it?
Tell me you’re stressed out—and then tell me you don’t hear voices. They may not be audible, but there are definitely voices in your mind suggesting things that make you feel pressured. They will say stuff like, “What if there’s not enough money in your account?” Or, “What if they hired that new person because they’re getting ready to let you go?” How about, “What if your adult children aren’t able to support themselves?” Or, “Why doesn’t that health issue get any better?”
All the while you’re listening to these suggestions, you have no true reason to believe there will be a negative outcome to any of those questions. And yet, the suggestion has entered your mind as a perceived reason to worry or fear. The nagging repetition of those questions creates a condition called, ‘stress’.
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Stress is conceived and produced ‘in your mind’. It isn’t something anyone forces you to receive—even though people can contribute to it.
Stress is another one of those traveling salesmen that comes knocking at your door. You hear the knock. You know who it is. You don’t have to answer it, but you do. As soon as there is a small crack of an opening—Wham! His foot is in the door and you have a hard time closing it because all of his lines are so convincing.
What he wants to sell you on—is the fact that you should worry and fear constantly and never stop, because when you dwell on the things that could possibly go wrong, you will feel better—as though your worrying will bring about constructive solutions to issues you really have no control over. It’s a subtle suggestion he makes that causes you to ‘buy in’. It goes like this: “If you stop worrying—everything is going to fall apart. You’d better keep worrying.” What a lie. Worrying doesn’t produce anything good at all. In fact, it actually prevents progress. You wonder how that could be true—well, it’s like this…
Worry is the opposite of faith. Being stressed out is a spiritual condition. It’s the condition of one who has chosen not to cast their burdens on the Lord. When you’ve chosen to worry and be stressed out—you’ve chosen to not accept the help of the Lord that comes through faith.
Picture yourself with ten suitcases piled on your back. You are bent under the load. Some of the suitcases are filled with junk. Broken things—worthless and meaningless worn out garbage. But, some of the other suitcases contain important things. Stuff you wouldn’t want to lose—yet, you can’t keep carrying. All of these slippery suitcases are piled on you. You try to walk and every time you take a step, something slides. You can’t think very hard about where you’re going because if you take your mind off those suitcases for one second—they’re going to tumble. You can’t make any kind of progress toward getting where you should go because the suitcases are demanding your full attention. You can’t move ahead. What can you do? The liar’s voice screams that you can’t put the suitcases down—you must keep carrying them. If you don’t carry them no one else will…and then you’ll lose everything. But, that’s not true.
There is one other voice—which you may have to strain to hear, because of the obnoxious nagging of ‘the liar’. It is the voice of ‘Truth’. The voice of your beloved. He is saying, “Cast your burden on me” or, “Let me carry the suitcases”. His heart breaks to see you carrying such a heavy load. He is strong and so willing to give you His help. There is just one real question—that only you can answer. The question is, “Will you let Him?”.
Declaration: I will find new strength to make progress and deal with reality—as I cast my burdens on the Lord. I will stop thinking that my worrying is solving anything or producing any positive results. The only One who can solve my problems is God. When I give Him the ‘suitcases’, I will walk free.
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