A Proper Perspective on Stress
The full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.
While it is true that all stress cannot (and should not) be removed, there are some unnecessary sources of stress that are especially harmful because they tend to be prolonged.
One source of unnecessary stress is caused by comparison to other people. Comparison has been called the favorite indoor sport of Christians. Christians love to compare themselves with one another. We compare our houses, our clothes, our cars, our jobs, our bank accounts, and our children. I like the way the Living Bible paraphrases 2 Corinthians 10:12: “Their trouble is that they are only comparing themselves with each other and measuring themselves against their own little ideas. What stupidity!” The Bible says it is stupid to compare yourself to anybody else.
Next, some stress is caused by materialism. In Luke 12, Jesus told a parable about a rich man who was caught up with his possessions. What was he going to do with his excess income? He said to himself: “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry”’ (vv. 18-19). God came to him that night and said: “You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” (v. 20). That word “required” is a banking term. It means “to call in a loan.” There’s a day coming for all of us when God is going to call in our loan. He’s going to say, “You’ve had enough time on earth. It’s time for you to stand before Me.” It’s foolish to build your life around material things. People who have a lot of money experience a lot of stress. But poor people can be materialistic as well. They can be under the illusion that money is the answer to all their problems. In fact, a poor person can be more materialistic than the rich because he’s never had money, so he thinks money can solve his problems. That is why Jesus said in Luke 12:22-23, “Do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
Finally, some unnecessary stress is caused by physical fatigue. An illustration of that is the prophet Elijah. On the top of Mount Carmel, Elijah defeated 850 prophets of Baal. Then Queen Jezebel threatened to kill him. So Elijah ran from Jezreel to Beersheba. Then 1 Kings 19:4 says he “went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree; and he requested for himself that he might die, and said, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life.’” Why did he say that? He was worn out spiritually from the great victory on Mount Carmel. He was worn out physically after running 120 miles. And he had a distorted perspective of reality. Being exhausted distorts your perception of yourself, your circumstances, and God. That’s why sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap. It restores your proper perspective.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Choosing Relaxation over Stress” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2019.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.