One of the hazards of getting older is diminishing strength. Things I used to be able to do, I can’t do anymore or not as well as I once could. Mr. Ache and Mr. Pain follow me everywhere I go. Losses in relationships, independence, income and mobility haunt me. My memory malfunctions: What I’d like to remember, I forget. What I’d like to forget, I remember. What used to be taunt and tight is now saggy and slack.
Prov 24:10 If you are slack in the day of distress, your strength is limited.
In other words, if you’re going downstairs and begin to fall your ability to catch yourself is less than if you’re going upstairs. You’re heading down already. It’s easier to fall than stay up.
My dad began to fall a bit toward the end. He said he learned to just go with it and then deal with the results after it was all over. It might hurt worst trying to catch himself.
What was Solomon doing in Prov 24:10? Giving an overview of life. In distress we need something to rely on other than our own strength. Why? Our strength will fail us.
Ps 71:9 Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength fails.
Corrie Ten Boom said “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed, but if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
When I look at the world, I am distressed. I’m distressed by:
Fake News Outlets:
· Running a story before they have the facts.
o The Cavanaugh hearings.
o Covington Catholic School Boys’ confrontation in Washington
o Jussie Smollett’s fake attack that went from outrage to embarrassment
· If a story feeds into a certain narrative it gets headline news without investigation. Later, when it’s found to be false, or even before, if it doesn’t fit the narrative, it gets slipped under the rug.
Hollywood or the music industry trying to set the standard for morals and politics. Fame doesn’t make a person an expert to comment on what’s right or wrong.
Societies’ skewed view of the sanctity of life:
Fined for up to $100,000 and a year imprisonment if you “take, harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, or capture any marine turtle, turtle nest, and/or eggs, or attempt to engage in any such conduct.”
Fined for up to $250,000 and two years’ imprisonment if you "take, pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb” a bald eagle.
What if you take the life of a pre-born baby? What if you even wait until the point of birth? Legislatures will stand and applaud. That distresses me!
Having our senses dulled to evil. News of shootings and rapes and abuse are so common place, we don’t even flinch at the stories. Baltimore had 14 shootings between Thursday night and Friday morning. Even when the newscast says: we warn you, some of what you see may be inappropriate, what do we do? We look up and watch. I tell them, “Then, why are you showing it?”
Politics: people trying to change America into a godless, socialistic, amoral society. And it would appear nobody is rising up to stop them.
Social media: we’ve lost all decorum over what’s appropriate to say or do as long as we get some likes. Why are twitter feeds considered publishable news items? Who cares who comments on what? Who decides if someone is lying or telling the truth?
Distress is an internal torment caused by external affliction and when I look at the world I get distressed.
When I look inside, I am depressed.
I see my failure. We all have a standard by which we measure ourselves. Perhaps it came from our mothers or fathers, or peers, or church but we expect certain behavior, certain performance. And when we can’t achieve that, we label ourselves as having failed.
When I’ve failed, I feel condemnation. But who is the condemner? God said He didn’t do that. Satan is called the accuser of the brethren. If I feel condemned it’s the enemy at work. If I feel conviction, it is the Holy Spirit at work. Condemnation pulls me away from God. Conviction draws me to Him.
Inside I feel fear, hatred, doubts, loneliness. I have memories that haunt me, limitations that restrict me. I have illness and disease that cripple me.
Depression comes when we allow our suffering to define us to the extent we torture ourselves by our suffering.
When I look inside, I am depressed.
When I look at both the world and within myself, I become stressed.
Stress is the body's reaction to harmful situations – things we consider a threat. When we feel threatened, our "fight-or-flight” response kicks in. Ourincreases, we breathe faster, muscles tighten, and rises. We’re ready to act, to protect ourselves.
Stress has common symptoms: What’s in the bucket starts sloshing out.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
Having difficulty relaxing and quieting our mind
Feeling lonely, worthless, and depressed
Physical symptoms of stress include:
Aches, pains, and tense muscles
Mental symptoms of stress include:
Becoming forgetful and disorganized
Inability to focus
Being pessimistic or negative
Some of these symptoms may need to be discussed with your doctor. There could be an underlying physical problem, or you may have simply stretched yourself too tightly.
A rubber band, if stretched, will return to its normal, relaxed position when it’s released. But if the rubber band is stretched for a long time and held, it loses its stretchiness. The same can happen to us when exposed to constant stress.
What’s our Solution: But when I look up, I see Jesus, and I am at rest. He said:
Is the load heavy? ‑ "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain You."
Are you afraid? – "Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you."
Are you tired? ‑ "Come unto Me all you who are heavy laden and I'll give you rest."
Have you lost your strength? – He gives strength to the weary and to him who lacks might He increases power."
Do you need comfort? ‑ "God...comforts us in all our afflictions."
Have you lost hope? – My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him.
Feel alone? Lo, I am with you always. And high when you’re in an airplane.
Lost your way? In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
Feel pressed in? "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Whatever we face, the Lord has a provision to counter it.
Biblical ways to handle stress
· Recognize the Problem – Have I allowed the problem to become greater than God.
· Disconnect from what’s driving the stress. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
- Turn to God in Prayer. Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- Meditate on the Word of God. Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
- Spend Time Giving Thanks and Praise. 1Co 15:57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Thess 5:16-18 Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Heb 13:15 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.
Embrace the Blessing of Suffering: In order to realize the worth of the anchor, sometimes we need to feel the stress of the storm.
Elisabeth Elliot has written a new book: Suffering is Never for Nothing. “Suffering is an irreplaceable medium through which I learned an indispensable truth.” “If we learn to know God in the midst of our pain, we come to know him not as one who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been over every inch of the road.”
Suffering exposes our weaknesses. Breaks our dependency on our own strength. Reminds us of how great our God is. How? It shows us God’s faithfulness.
Ps 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Paul had to feel the pain to accept that answer: 2Cor 12:8-11 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
Years ago, a TV commercial advertised a glue with the claim that when it repaired a broken object, the point of the repair would be stronger than any other part of the object. Under stress, it would break somewhere else before breaking the bond of the glue. That’s what God did for Paul. He filled-in Paul’s broken place with His own strength, so that Paul was stronger in his weak place than anywhere else.
Distress from the world and depression within should press us toward our benefit not away from it, because when we look at Jesus, we are at rest.
We need to learn this now because more is on the way: it will get worse before it gets better. Because Prov 24:10 If we are slack in the day of distress, our strength will be limited.
Dan 12:1 Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued. Dan 12:3 Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven…
- If we look at the world for our hope, we will become distressed.
- If we look at ourselves for the strength to cope, we will become depressed.
- If we look to Jesus, we will be at rest because He is our answer.
- Suffering is never for no reason, so, let it draw us to the Lord, not pull us away.
- In all things remember: God’s grace is sufficient for whatever we face.