Stress Part 2: Why Do We Stress When We Have A Savior?

Welcome to Part 2 of our look at stress. In Part 1 we introduced our passage, defined stress, and also distinguished between good (eustress) and bad (distress) stress. We’re focusing on the bad stress, since it’s the detrimental kind that hinders us.
Paul speaks to distress and anxiety in Philippians 4:4-7:

  1. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 
  2. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;
  3. do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 
  4. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)

We then ended by questioning our stress. Why does a Christian stress? Why do you stress?
I stressed over a busy Friday. I was frantically balancing responsibilities and it wore me down. I was overwhelmed.

But in the span of eternity, my little Friday was a fraction of the vapor that is my life. I’ve been given an eternity in paradise with my Savior. So why did I still get overcome with stress and worry?

1.We’re Strangers in This Fallen World

Stevin Curtis Chapman has a wonderful song called Long Way Home. He speaks to the struggle we face in this world, and how we’re just passing through. It really changes the whole perspective when focus on our real life staring after this one. It brings to mind this verse:

33. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Christ has overcome my stressful Friday, your financial hardships, your broken relationships, your sorrows, your heartbreak, the world. We have His blessed assurance and a peace that surpasses all understanding (verse 7). We can remain grounded because our Savior purchased our salvation and gave us a heavenly home. Thanks to Christ’s resurrection, our real life begins after this one ends.

The eternity in Heaven praising our savior is the perfect, complete reward. Paradise is a beautiful place where there’s no tears or heartache. We should be longing to get there! If we have this reward, every little bump on the journey there is negligible. Paul says in another letter that even death has lost its sting. Nothing that happens on Earth can deter us from our home. We can find comfort in what’s coming before us!

But it’s very important here that we make sure we’re practical. Paul draws attention to this in verse 5 where he speaks to our reasonableness:
5. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; (Philippians 4:5)
We should not be too heavenly minded to be of any earthly good. Rather, our blessed assurance and peace from God mentioned in verse 7 should anchor us in this life, to press towards our real home.

This fallen creation still ultimately points to its Creator, despite our misuse of every aspect of it. As Chrsitians we’re called to redeem creation. This saving grace of Christ and intimate relationship with God have serious implications for all areas of our life on Earth. Even the stressful ones. We can handle our stressful finances, relationships, responsibilities, obligations, and pressures in ways that glorify Christ and grow His kingdom.

Yes, stress and hardships are eminent. We will feel defeated. We will feel that all is lost. But our heavenly home awaits us, and we’re called to bring as many with us as we can. Press towards the mark of the high calling!

2. We Lose Sight of our Goal

If we shift the paradigm to realizing that we’re only passing through, we should be heavenly minded. That’s quite easy to say, but it’s easy to be overwhelmed by our life on Earth. Now this is a real physical place, and most of the time our stressors are reasonable.
Finances are necessary to life, relationships are our family, friends, and how we witness and lead others to Christ, work is how provide for our families. There are all valid endeavors that need to be attended to.

The problem is when these things tear at us and cripple us.

Paul’s use of this Greek word conveys our stress better than our English. He uses the word “merimnáō” which properly translates to being drawn in opposite directions or divided into parts. The context here suggests that Paul was harnessing its figurative interpretation: “to go to pieces” due to being pulled apart. Paul said like the force exerted by sinful anxiety that tears us into pieces.

And that’s exactly how it feels, doesn’t it? It feels like you’re being torn in a hundred different directions. It can feel like the life you’ve built is crumbling. You only see a thousand bricks instead of the building Christ can build from it.

This happens when we give the carnal issues more attention than we give Christ. We lose our focus on Christ. We see this here as Paul in verse 4 tells us to rejoice. He even tells us twice.
4. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
If we’re rejoicing in the Lord we’ll have Him on our minds and hearts, thus minimizing the temporary hiccups we’ll have in our life of praise.  We have to adjust to the bigger picture and its painter. If we fix our eyes on Jesus, the troubles of this life pale in comparison to His grace and beauty. Our focus should be on Christ and the guidance of the Spirit, not the flesh.

6. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6 ESV)

That’s easy to say and read, but it’s a little different applying it. When rent’s due and the bills come up and the fridge is empty and your mother is sick and your brakes go out and your world is crumbling down around you the last thing you wanna do is lead others Christ. I realize that’s my whole reason for being on Earth and all, but I’ve got to handle my business first before I have an awkward, uncomfortable conversation with someone.

When I compare my struggles to the cross, it can’t help but seem pointless. Christ has overcome this world and my little problems, and I have a home prepared for me in Heaven. Christ has overcome death, both the physical and spiritual. He’s calling me to be His messenger, and to bring others home. That has to be my focus, not stressing over the temporary complications of this life. Leading others to the salvation of Christ is the goal, and I cannot lose sight of it.

So why do we stress when we have a Savior?
Simple. Our perspective is wrong. We lose sight of our home and our mission. We are strangers in this fallen world that will face inevitable troubles, but our eternity in Heaven with our savior makes every one of those issues irrelevant.  On my journey to Heaven, I’m called to bring others with me. Leading others to Christ is the goal that outshines every possible problem I could ever have on Earth.

So I want to encourage you, Church. When you’re torn in different directions by sinful worry and stress, remember to keep your home and your goal in perspective.

Thank you for reading! I pray you’ll join me for part 3 where we’ll see how we should respond to stress.

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Don’t Be Ignorant On Gay Marriage, Alabama

Alabama’s Gay Marriage Ban was recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. There will be a blizzard of appeals, debate, and people on both sides of the issue embarrassing themselves. But that is not the point of this post.

I have an issue with people comparing the discrimination of homosexuals today to the discrimination of blacks in the 60’s. I’m not speaking on comparisons to interracial marriage, but to the nationwide hate that faced African Americans from this period.
Regardless of how you feel about gay marriage or even homosexuality as a whole, it is absolutely ignorant to compare the two.

True, I could see where homosexuals have been denied something because of their sexuality: a job, promotion, adoption, or any of the many things that never reach headlines. I see that. I can sympathize with that argument to a reasonable extent.

But that pales in comparison to the atrocities faced by the Civil Rights Movement.
To even suggest that homosexuals’ issues are equitable to that of African Americans facing discrimination in pre-Civil Rights Act America is absurd. Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, violence continued on for years.

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Especially those in Alabama, you should know better. Our state was the battleground for Civil Rights. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a famous letter from a Birmingham Jail. The Montgomery Bus Boycott started by Rosa Parks took place in our state’s capitol. Martin Luther King also led a massive march from Selma to Birmingham. We have memorials everywhere,19551201_Rosa_Parks_Mug_Shot reminding us of the past. We are bombarded with it in History class. Our classmates, coworkers, and churches have family that lived it. How could we have forgotten?

Honestly, the comparison angers me. I’m always shocked whenever I hear this argument. Homosexuals have experienced prejudice, no doubt.
Homosexuals have not faced systematic oppression and outright hate like African Americans did in the 60’s.

There are no gay water fountains.

Men Drinking from Segregated Water Fountains

There no restaurants that only serve straights.

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There are no signs placing gays below dogs.

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There are no police officers beating gays for having a different opinion.

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There are no German Shepherds attacking gays at peaceful protests.

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There are no fire hoses unleashing 290 pounds per square inch of water on gays.

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There are no crosses being burned the yards of gay houses.

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And most importantly, there are no lynchings of gays.

I won’t post pictures here, but all you have to do is Google “Black Lynchings” to see these travesties. In many of the earlier pictures (not necessarily 1960’s) you will see children gathered around watching this murder, because it was commonplace.
Blacks were drug behind trucks, torn between horses, lit on fire and hanged regularly. There were churches and schools being bombed. In fact, Birmingham had the nickname of “Bombingham”. The hate led to white civil rights workers being murdered as well.

Violence ran rampant in the Deep South especially, but discrimination and segregation was everywhere. Hundreds of years of tensions were reaching a boiling point. I pray our country never sees discrimination on such a scale ever again.

Iamaman.previewThis was one of the lowest points in the history of the United States. There was so much wrong being perpetrated on a daily basis. Jim Crow Laws and the Ku Klux Klan separated blacks and presented them as subhuman. Black life was far from sacred, it was often despised.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not think every person that is for gay marriage compares the two. I actually think it is a relative minority, but they are a loud minority. It only takes one person to made this ignorant statement. I also don’t want you to think I’m minimizing the battles homosexuals are facing. I am not. Homosexuals often face hate rather than understanding. I understand their resentment and feelings of discrimination. I honestly do. But.

It amazes me that people can think these two situations are comparable. They most definitely are not. Conversations on gay marriage should happen. Comparisons to the Civil Rights Era should not.

What are your thoughts? Have you heard anyone use this comparison before?