Dr. Hans Selye, the late Canadian endocrinologist and father of stress research, calls stress “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand upon it.” He defined stress as our emotional and physical responses to a complex collection of both positive and negative circumstances. Do you ever feel hard-pressed, exhausted, or beaten? Where do I begin? Deadlines. Workload. Competition. Over-commitment. Too much information. Too many choices. For example, in 1978, the average grocery store carried 11,767 items. Today the typical grocery has 50,000 SKUs. Even progress is overwhelming!
A few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk with a long list of calls to make and a tall stack of files to tackle. Suddenly my mind was bombarded with thoughts, and my body was besieged with anxiety. Just like a computer freezes, I became paralyzed, unable to make a single movement for several minutes. As I sat absolutely immobile, God got my attention (once again). Something Oswald Chambers was known to say came into my mind: “Trust God and do the next thing.” How does trusting God connect with feeling stressed? Consider Jesus’ invitation to His overwhelmed followers: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He was reassuring those who had begun to question Him. Jesus, fully God and fully man, knew what it felt like to carry a greater burden than anyone else in history. His finished work give Him the power to release us from the enslaving burdens of sin, death and sorrow. Trusting God requires that we resetting our focus. As quickly as I had locked up, I was able to release each issue to His care, rest in His presence with me at work, and move forward into my day.
When you are feeling hard-pressed, stop and remember that Jesus is approachable. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me . . . for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” A yoke is a wooden beam, normally worn by a pair of animals to enable them to pull together on a load. When you are exhausted don’t forget that Jesus helps carry the load. He doesn’t leave us or abandon us while we are on earth and He is in Heaven “ . . . for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” When you feel beaten, Jesus models the best way to walk through our busy, complicated lives. He offers the rest and refreshment of His companionship. Are you feeling overwhelmed right now? Perhaps Jesus would say to you, “Trust that I am close by and bigger than your day, than any of your problems. Acknowledge that working and living My way is easier than your culture operates. Receive My guidance and strength. Now let’s get to work on what’s fitting for today.” An irresistible offer for all who are humble enough to come!
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, save me when I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of demands and obligations. There is no way to do everything I need to do without Your help. I am in way over my head. So here I am again. Please hold me up and steady me. Give me Your strength and reassurance. While many people and things may be counting on me, I am counting on You.
“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his helper is omnipotent.”
Jeremy Taylor, 17th century cleric
Other Promises . . .
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Cease striving and know that I am God; God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, therefore we will not fear though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” Psalm 46:1-3, 10
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27
“I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me.” Psalm 57:2