Contents Under Pressure
Sunday morning at Shannon Oaks I began a new series looking at what the Bible has to say about stress -- something so ubiquitous I don't even need to define it or give you examples of what it looks like. It's strange if you think about it: we have so many time-saving and labor-saving devices -- things which were supposed to make life so much easier and less stressful -- and yet we are perhaps the most stressed out generation ever. Don't get me wrong: some stress is okay. Some stress is even beneficial. In a few minutes, I'm going to go to the gym and put the muscles of my upper body under a little pressure. This will enable them to be torn down and rebuilt stronger and (hopefully) a little bit larger than they were before. There are some good chemicals that don't drip in your brain unless you experience a little bit of stress. Healthy things happen in your circulatory system, in your nervous system, in your kidneys and liver when you experience stress that don't happen otherwise.
But your body has its limits. Too much stress over a prolonged period of time can cause your body to redline -- like a car that revs its engine too high for too long. And that's when things go bad.
Obviously, we all know by now the physically negative impact of carrying too much stress for too long. Hypertension. Heart disease. Stroke. High blood pressure. Lower back pain. Some doctors say that most of the things they treat people for are either caused by stress or are certainly made worse by stress. Your physical body is simply not designed to take on too much pressure for a prolonged period of time.
But long before your heart gives out or your nervous system shuts down, long before stress takes its toll physically, it has already taken its toll in other ways: emotionally, spiritually, relationally. The simple truth is this: It is extremely difficult to experience intimacy with someone who is stressed out all the time.
Sunday morning we looked at one of the simplest forms of stress reduction I could think of. It's deceptively simple because it's one of those things that's so easy to understand but so hard to actually do. It is this: If you would just live your life within the parameters God has set for you, you would immediately reduce the amount of stress in your life. Immediately. Dramatically.
Think, for example, of what the Bible says about families. It tells parents not to frustrate their children. It tells children to honor their parents. It tells husbands to love their wives, and it tells wives to respect their husbands (this doesn't mean being a doormat, but we can talk more about that later). If we'd just do those things, do you realize how much stress we'd immediately peel away from our lives?
What are some other simple instructions found in the Bible that would immediately and dramatically reduce the amount of stress in our lives?