‘I just can’t cope anymore’ Do you ever feel like that? Many people do. They feel they are cracking under the strain and are afraid of the future.
The pressure of modern life is one cause of illness. What is the answer? Well. Doctors can do much at the physical level. But if the cause is emotional and spiritual, there can be no answer to the problem unless we seek it at these levels.
Let us consider the Christian answer to the problem of pressure. Many people have found help in eight statements from the Bible. I’ll run through them fairly quickly and you can choose those you think may be helpful in your situation.
1. Get Away for a Break
There was a day when Jesus said to his disciples, “Come away to a quiet place by yourselves and rest awhile.” (Mark 6:31) Jesus knew all about pressure and even he, the Son of God, had to escape from it when he could. Like many, Jesus found it difficult to break away from his work.
Once he even left Palestine altogether and went up the coast of Tyre and Sidon. But they heard of him even there and a woman came pleading with him to heal her daughter. On another occasion Jesus was seeking a break not only from the daily pressure of his work, but also from the pain of personal sorrow—John the Baptist had been executed.
But Jesus was not allowed to escape. He faced the daunting task of feeding 5,000 people. However, late that night he did manage to slip away for a while and rest and pray. Don’t you think that would help?
2. Reduce Your Workload
Of course some could benefit by doing more work but many today are overloaded. The classic example of an overworked and hard-pressed housewife was Martha. Thirteen or more unexpected guests had arrived and Martha was flat out in the kitchen trying to do a dozen things at once.
But what was her sister Mary doing? Do you blame Martha for feeling angry? I can’t say I do. Yet what did Jesus say to her? “Martha, Martha you are fretting and fussing about so many things, but few things are necessary.” (Luke 10:41-42)
How many of us allow more and more tasks to overwhelm us without asking if they are really necessary? We can carry on only by remembering what Jesus said to Martha and restricting the tasks to those things which time and strength reasonably permit.
3. Live One Day at a Time
When people begin to feel they can no longer cope with life, too often it is because they are worrying about the future as well as the present. But God breaks life up into days and nights and he expects us to live one day at a time, trusting the future to him. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, as J. B. Phillips puts it, “Don’t worry at all then about tomorrow. Tomorrow can take care of itself. One day’s trouble is enough for one day.” (Matthew 6:34)
Sir William Osler, who did his medical course in Montreal, organised the John Hopkins School of Medicine, and became Regis Professor of Medicine at Oxford. What was the secret of his success? As a student in Montreal he read some words written by Thomas Carlyle which led him to concentrate on doing the duty that was nearest and putting out of his mind those that lay ahead. At the age of 63 he sailed to America to lecture the students at Yale. He urged them to live in ‘day-tight compartments’. Our lives are more secure if we live one day at a time.
The best way to prepare for the future is to stop worrying about it, doing each day’s work as it comes, trusting God to supply strength for that day. “As your days so shall your strength be.” (Deuteronomy 33:25)
4. Rest One Day Every Week
Thousands of people think they know better than God. They end up working seven days-a-week. God didn’t make us that way and sooner or later the pressure beats us.
‘Rest’ does not mean of course, doing nothing, for no active person can be happy and relaxed doing nothing. It means doing something different, something you want to do, or something relaxing and renewing, without pressure.
That is the value of spending part of one day in seven in worship. The Bible reminds us, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15) While we are quiet in God’s presence and worship him we are set free from the tension and strains which result from the pressures of life. Not only that, but we take in spiritual power that assists us to be “more than conquerors through him who loves us.” (Romans 8:37)
5. Get your mind off yourself—on to God
Many of us, when we become tired and nervy through the pressures of life, feel sorry for ourselves. The more we think about ourselves the more tired we become and the greater our fear of being able to cope with the future.
Norman Vincent Peale tells how a young business man asked him to talk with his father, the head of their business. He said. “I’m very worried about Dad. He is so nervous and tense. There are so many pressures and problems in the business and my Dad is giving way under them.”
They went into his office and he looked nervous and tense. “Glad to see you Norman. There’s always so much to do,” he commented. Dr Peale encouraged him to relax and talk over his problem of pressure in the business. After a time, Dr Peale said to him, “I don’t suppose you ever read the Scriptures do you?”
“Certainly I do,” the man replied. Dr Peale said, “You read them but you don’t practice them.” “Of course I practice them, I’m a moral man.” “I wasn’t talking morals and ethics, I was talking about the healing power of God. Have you ever read the 26th chapter of Isaiah, 3rd verse—‘You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you’?”
Peale then went on to explain that the father had not been keeping his mind on God; he’d let it dwell too much on his problems. He urged him to repeat the text three times a day to get it fixed in his mind and heart.
Faith in God, more than anything else, helps us to keep things in perspective and cuts our pressures down to size.
By: John Edmondstone