Finding Peace in a Stressful World

Understanding Stress - An Introduction

1 Thess 3:2-4

we sent Timothy, our brother who works with us for God in preaching the Good News about Christ. We sent him to strengthen you and help your faith, 3 so that none of you should turn back because of these persecutions. You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God's will for us. TEV
This message was preached February 16, 2003 at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at ToulonBaptist.com

In these messages we do not want to seem to trivialize stress. Stress is not simple nor is it easy to overcome.

Stress is a matter of the mind and emotions. That is the causes of stress may be physical, or emotional but stress is always emotional. Now it can affect the body if not dealt with satisfactorily.

There are a number of stress factors, those issues that produce stress. Each one will have differing natural solutions. But when all is said and done we cannot solve all the stress factor in our lives. Instead we mus learn to deal with them.

Many of the things that cause stress are far beyond our control but stress its self is not. The primary purpose of these message is to help us understand stress and how to win the victory over it. We may not be able to control our circumstances but we can control the stress that it places on our lives. A small example, a man who used to be totally stressed when he would get caught in traffic, now has with him a small bottle of bubbles and he rolls down the window and blows bubbles while he waits. Now the man's situation has not changed but the way it affects him has changed. Now we might think it strange to blow bubbles while caught in traffic, but it is better than blowing up.

Controlling stress for the world is a matter of process. Do this to produce that. For the Christian it is a spiritual battle, fought with spiritual weapons.

  1. The Value of Stress
    1. A certain amount of stress is very needed.
      1. One of the things we have learned about space travel is that the normal stress of gravity is very necessary for the continued strength of the body.
        1. Those who spend time in space dedicate a portion of each day to maintain their physical strength.
        2. If we do nothing be rest we do not get stronger but weaker.
      2. The same is very true in the spiritual realm as well.
        1. Children who are overly protected are in for a great down fall one day when their buffer is not able to protect them any longer.
        2. As we grow, if we were not stretched by each new trial we would break when the first real troubles came our way.
      3. Any farmer can tell you that corn needs a period of dry weather so that the roots will sink deep into the groung.
        1. That way they plant has good enough attachment to anchor it.
        2. I remember it was the year I sold my house in Colona, it rained ever other day and the corn all over the area grew no end. It rained it seems for three months. But when a wind storm came while the corn was in full ear but not yet dry it blew much of it down.
    2. Paul is sending Timothy to help these Christians in Thessalonica who were undergoing terrible persecution for their faith.
      1. One might ask what was it that Timothy would do.
      2. He obviously is not going to evacuate them to safer places.
      3. Nor is he going to be able to stop the persecution.
      4. No, he is being sent to strengthen them so they can undergo the trials without falling apart.
    3. But notice how Today's English Version translates that last part.
      1. " You yourselves know that such persecutions are part of God's will for us. "
      2. Now if you are one who has bought into the health and wealth gospel then that sounds wrong.
      3. God is not as concerned about you being healthy and wealthy as He is concerned about you being like Jesus.
      4. And the way He intends to make you like Jesus is to put you through what Jesus went through.
      5. Their troubles and persecutions did not come by chance, not merely from the wrath and malice of the enemies of religion, but by the appointment of God. The event only came to pass according as God had determined, and they knew he had told them before it would be; so that they should not think it strange, and, being fore-warned, they should be fore-armed. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
      6. The apostles were so far from flattering people with an expectation of worldly prosperity in religion that, on the contrary, they told them plainly they must count upon trouble in the flesh. And herein they followed the example of their great Master, the author or our faith. (from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)
  2. The Lessons of Stress
    1. Stress shows us that we live in a fallen world.
    2. Stress teaches us that it will never be easy to do the right thing.
      1. There will always be wicked people to oppose us.
      2. Jealousy and greed will always confront us, sometimes from within.
    3. Stress will also show us just how far we have traveled in our spiritual journey.
      1. None of us like tests but it is the test that demonstrates the strength of any object.
      2. The Bible teaches us that a persons response to the pressures of life will indicate his/her strengths and weaknesses.
  3. The Product of Stress
    1. Stress can have either positive or negative results.
    2. Stress can force us to abandon self.
    3. Stress can force us to realize how much we need each other.
    4. Stress can force us to rely upon God.

There are only three ways to deal with stress. The first is to move, get away from the stress causes in your life. Second you can turn to medications, or drugs, but that is only temporary. Third is you can change the way you think about things.

That final way is the most permanent. God has intended meditation on God through the Scriptures as the best way to change your thinking patterns.