Are You Stressed Out?January 1, 2021 Save Article
When stress saps you of your strength, steals your peace, and keeps you from experiencing God’s best for you, it’s time for a time out. You need a moment to stop and take stock. If you’re feeling defeated, God has something to help you deal with it: four directives to help you take back the years the enemy is stealing through his weapon of stress, and three promises to help you stop this thief.
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
Do you need to de-stress? Are your days too long, the nights too short, there’s too much to do and not enough time? Studies find that 80% of all Americans from time to time suffer from chronic stress syndrome. This is the day of the quick cash, the mad dash, and oppressive stress. We think we're so wise and advanced, but when you analyze it, today’s culture has added to our lives not much more than speed and noise. We get there faster but still don't know where we're going. Someone said this generation can be described in three words: hurry, worry, bury.
First, let’s define stress so we understand how it’s affecting us.
Stress: the gap between the demands placed on you and your ability to meet those demands.
The difference between the two is what creates stress.
The Problem of Stress
Doctors write 20 million prescriptions for aspirin each year. That doesn’t include aspirin taken without a prescription. Nearly half the adults in the U.S. (108 million, or 45%) have hypertension or are on medication for it. 75-90% of all visits to primary care physicians are due to stress-related disorders and illnesses.
Youth doesn’t give you immunity. Anyone, teenagers and children included, can fall prey to stress. We’re emotionally fatigued, physically drained, and spiritually defeated due to stress. Stress not only kills your enjoyment of life; you’re also more vulnerable to attacks from the devil. You’re more prone to argue over little things. Minor irritations become mountains when you’re stressed.
The natural stresses of life are made worse by some additional factors. On one side are all our responsibilities, demands, opportunities, and those things we want to and ought to do. On the other side are our inabilities, faults, weaknesses, and sinfulness. We say, “I want to, I ought to—but I can’t.” That just creates more frustration, adding stress upon stress.
- Does this sound familiar? Are you drained? Do you hear yourself saying, “I just can’t go on”? When do you most often feel this pressure?
- What are some of the “ought to's” in your life that weigh you down and cause you frustration?
- Do you know people who seem to suffer physical consequences from the stress in their lives? Perhaps you will want to share a copy of this study with them.
Enough about the diagnosis. The Bible has quite a bit to say about stress. For the follower of Christ, what’s the cure?
The Promise of Strength
Thank God, He will help us. He dwells in inaccessible light. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present. We stand in our weakness and lack of strength. God tells us in His Word what He will do when we’re stressed if we will only listen and follow His direction. We find some of those promises in Isaiah chapter 40, one of the greatest chapters in the Bible. In verses 29-31, God's promises are made clear.
He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might, He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
God never gives out, never tires, never stresses. You say, “I’m weak. I’m out of strength. I’m done.” What does He promise? “To the weak, power.” God will increase your strength.
- Ponder for a moment the greatest time of stress in your life. Perhaps it was a crisis you didn’t initiate and was out of your control. Because in times of crisis we tend to want to forget what happened, take a moment to review that time. How did God get you through it? What did you learn from it? Write down the truths the Lord impressed upon you then.
- Did He tell you something specific to do? Have you done it?
Three causes of stress you may not have thought of:
You may be weary just because of the plain demands of service.
The Lord Jesus Himself, in His earthly body, knew what it was to get tired serving others.
- Before He witnessed to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), the Bible said He sat down because He was weary.
- In Mark 5, when a woman reached out for healing by touching the hem of His garment, Jesus was aware that strength had gone out of him.
- One time, He got so tired, He went to sleep in the middle of a storm on the fantail of a little ship on the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 8). Now, you've got to be weary to do that. Jesus wasn't lazy, He was bone-tired.
You may be weary because of the dissipation of sin, like Samson.
Sin depleted his strength. Sin, my dear friend, will weary you. It depletes physical strength, emotional strength, moral strength, and spiritual strength.
All this can be compounded by the devices of Satan.
He waits until he sees you're weary to oppose you spiritually and make a strategic strike. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10).
- What demands of genuine service brought you to the place of bone-tired weariness?
- Be honest with yourself. When has the dissipation of sin drained you of strength (physical, emotional, moral, or spiritual)?
- It’s important that we become aware, too, of the devices of Satan. Look up these two verses:
1 Peter 5:8
How can you be better equipped to handle his attacks? In addition to prayer, name some practical ways.
Exchanging Your Weakness for His Strength
In Isaiah 40:31, God uses the words “renew your strength.” That Hebrew word for “renew,” chaleth, actually means “exchange.” Get the picture: We give Him our weakness; our great God exchanges that for His strength. It's the same thing the apostle Paul talked about in Galatians:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
That’s more than a changed life, it is an exchanged life.
Did you know you can put off your weakness just like taking off a coat, and you can put on God's strength just like you put on another coat? God holds the answer to your stress. It’s not a sin to be stressed, but it is a sin for help to be available and not avail yourself of it.
The exchange is conditional.
But hold on—there’s a condition to receiving this help. He gives that condition in verse 31: To renew/exchange our strength for His strength, we must “wait upon the Lord.”
The psalmist said almost the same thing. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage. He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the LORD.”
What does it mean to “Wait on the Lord”?
How do you “wait on” Him? Do you just sit around, waiting for Him to do something? We must find out because this little phrase is the key—the crux of the whole matter of God’s answer to stress. Most of us will miss it here, thinking “waiting on the Lord” is some form of passivity, sitting around waiting for God to do something.
Waiting on the Lord is not passivity. It’s activity.
That’s the key to everything. If you miss this, the rest doesn’t matter! It is not sitting around until God finally moves. When you wait on God, you take the initiative. What do waiters and waitresses do? Do they just sit there? No, they’re alert. They say, “Can we help? What would you like? We’re here to serve you.” When you wait on the Lord, you serve. Like the server in a good restaurant, you’re watchful, you’re sensitive, you’re quick to respond, you’re on the lookout for how to please. This is waiting on the Lord.
Four Things You Do When You “Wait on the Lord”
1. You LONG for Him.
“Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation” (Psalm 62:1).
David wrote this in a time of stress and distress. He knew only God could satisfy his deepest need. Do you know that yet? Are you saying, “Lord, I long for You, I want You, God”? If all you want is relief without wanting God, forget it.
2. You LISTEN to Him.
Does God appreciate the ones who wait and listen for Him? Yes, He blesses them.
“Blessed is the man who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting at the posts of My doors” (Proverbs 8:34).
The one waiting on the Lord says, “Lord, I’m hoping You’re going to come through that gate soon and have some instruction for me. I’m waiting, Lord, for You to speak.”
Psalm 62 speaks about a quiet time. When I wait upon the Lord, my ears are tuned to God. How do I do it? “I watch daily at His gates”—that is, God and I have an appointment, a meeting place, where I rise, go to meet Him, and wait on Him. You must have a quiet time alone with God, watching daily at His gates. Do you? Are you tuned to the Lord? If not, don’t tell me Isaiah 40:28-31 won’t work. You say, “Oh yes—a quiet time (ho-hum-yawn). I always hear that.” Before you read another word, look at these:
“Jesus said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile’” (Mark 6:31).
“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).
“By your patience, possess your souls” (Luke 21:19).
“Come away, my beloved” (Song of Solomon 2:10).
“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there” (Matthew 14:23).
“So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed” (Luke 5:16).
- Do you find it hard to sit still, be quiet, and just listen? Have you ever tried it?
- I can give you four other times Jesus got alone to be with His Father. Look at these verses. What was going on, on each of these occasions?
Luke 4:1-2, 14-15
We talk about this quiet time, we preach about it, we sing about it, but we don't practice it. Dear friend, that's the reason so many of us are so stressed. We haven’t met God early in the morning. We've not sought His face. We've not shut other things out and shut ourselves up alone with God. We've not saturated our souls in His Word and bathed ourselves in His presence. No wonder we're stressed.
- If you’re taking this study, stress must be a factor in your life. What practical steps are you willing to take that, according to the Scriptures we’ve looked at, will help you greatly reduce, if not eliminate, much of the stress in your life?
- Will you commit to a daily, morning quiet time with God? If so, write down your commitment here. Also state the number of weeks for which you will make that commitment.
3. You LOOK to Him.
The Psalmist, speaking of the birds and beasts of the forest, wrote: “These all wait for You, that You may give them their food in due season” (Psalm 104:27).
The birds and the beasts look to Him. Are you looking to Him? Do you believe God is going to take care of you? That’s more than a rhetorical question; it’s meant to hit you right between the eyes. Do you believe God can meet your needs, that He is sufficient? Or are you looking somewhere else? Is your hope in Him? If not, no wonder you're stressed.
I wonder how many reading this study have a consistent, quality, quiet time with God. Most of us wouldn’t want anyone to know how much quality time we spend with Him. Then we wind up tense, nervous, and stressed. We are to wait on God, and that means to long for Him, listen to Him, look to Him.
- Do you keep a prayer journal? If so, journal about the questions in the above paragraph.
- If you don’t have a journal, will you commit to getting one this week? Almost every store carries inexpensive journals.
When I long for him, I'll listen to him. When I listen to him, I will look to him, as Psalm 121:1-2 beautifully depicts: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made Heaven and earth.”
4. You LIVE for Him.
“Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who waits on his master will be honored” (Proverbs 27:18).
To wait upon God also means to live for Him. How do you keep a fig tree? You prune it, fertilize it, nurture it—whatever is necessary to keep what would harm it away. If you spend time on that fig tree, you have a right to “eat the fruit thereof.” But that’s not all. He who waits on his Master “shall be honored.” God is our master. If we wait on the Lord, we’re to be doing for God what a person does for a fig tree if he wants fruit from the tree. When a person serves God, he eats heaven's fruit. He who lives for God “will be honored.” I promise you, on the authority of the Word of God, that if you will wait upon Him, God will renew your strength.
The Program for Service
We’ve talked about the fact that we are stressed. We’ve covered the effects of stress on our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. We also need to be aware of three “stress triggers” in our lives every day. The second one may surprise you.
Adversity—the storms of life that cause stress. These come upon us unexpectedly.
Opportunity—those glorious things we want to seize upon. We don’t want them to pass us by, and we’re afraid they’re going to get away from us. The thought alone causes stress.
Necessity—those things we have to do on a daily basis, day in, day out.
Any one of these will cause you stress. But in Isaiah 40:28-31, God has given us three promises:
In adversity, God promises elevation.
We will be able to fly like eagles. The eagle only flies swifter, stronger, higher when flying in a storm. We all have storms. We all know adversity. But the faster the wind blows, the more we can soar like eagles (v. 31) if we’re longing for, listening to, and looking at the Lord. We think sometimes God is cruel when God is kind. The storms of life that come to you may be the things God brings to deliver you, help you, and cause you to rise higher.
- Which storm in your life caused you to rise higher? Could you feel the wind of the Holy Spirit lifting you through that storm?
In opportunity, God promises acceleration.
You’ll be able to run and not be weary. There’s enough time in every day to do everything God wants you to do. Note that qualifier: everything God wants you to do. Sometimes opportunities arrive in the form of responsibilities coming at us so fast we have to run to keep up. That’s why Isaiah 40:31 promises acceleration. A good example is what happened to Philip in Acts 8.
Philip was knee-deep in a great revival in Samaria. People were being saved, healed, and delivered right and left. Philip was in the thick of it. Then “an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (v. 26). Why would the Holy Spirit pull him off the job in that place and send him out to the desert?
Nevertheless, Philip didn’t hesitate. He rose and went there. An incredible opportunity was waiting. A man “of great authority under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury” (v. 27) was riding in his chariot, returning to his home country, while reading in Isaiah about the coming Messiah. But he had no way to understand who Isaiah was talking about. The Holy Spirit told Philip exactly where the man was and said, “Go near and overtake this chariot.” Philip was no runner, but with the Holy Spirit’s strength, he ran and caught up with him (v. 29-30). The Ethiopian not only came to know the Lord and was baptized, he also took the Gospel back to his homeland. Tradition tells us he was the man who opened all of North Africa to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In necessity, God promises determination.
We’ll have the strength to keep walking day by day. This is where we fail most because it’s where we live most of the time. It’s one thing to soar like an eagle or surge like an athlete, but it’s another to stay faithful day by day in the little things. How often the Bible reminds us the Christian life is a daily walk. “As your days, so shall your strength be” (Deuteronomy 33:25).
Victory isn’t some spectacular event. Victory is getting breakfast for the kids, dressing them, getting them to school, going to work, cleaning the house, carrying out the garbage. It’s daily Bible study…your quiet time…prayer. It’s visiting the sick, being sweet to your spouse. It’s all day, every day, good days, bad days, walking the Christian life. If you can be a Christian at home, you can be a Christian anywhere. If you can’t be a Christian at home, you’re going to fail everywhere.
I’m going to put this study in one sentence, and it’s so simple: The answer to stress is a quiet time with God.
That gap you feel between all the things you need to do, ought to do, must do, coupled with your weakness, inability, and frustration, will be removed. He will take your nothingness and infuse it with His Almightiness when you learn to wait on Him.
- What can you share from this study with others when they tell you how stressed they are?
- What is your most important takeaway from this study?
- Did you make that commitment to have a daily quiet time with God?
This Bible Study was taken from the message, "Dealing with Stress" (#1153).
Learn more about how to study the Bible with the LWF Bible Study Guide.
Learn more about this subject by reading Mastering Your Emotions by Adrian Rogers.