Today we’re talking about something that I get affected by a lot, and I’m sure that most of us do: stress. Do you get stressed out easily? Mal Gill from Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC) helps us uncover the approach of Jesus to the issue of stress, anxiety and worry.
Yes and no. I’m a pretty laid-back guy, but there are times where I will yell out, “Serenity now. Serenity now,” and try.
A “Seinfeld” reference. What gets you stressed?
Sometimes just the pressure of a schedule. Nowadays particularly you turn on your phone and all of a sudden things are beeping at you on your calendar saying: “You’ve got this in an hour,” “You’ve got this in two hours,” or a phone text message or bing and you realize something else is going on so I think life just seems busier. It might not be busier, but it seems more hectic and that just relates to stress.
So how do you think as Christians we can deal with stress well?
Jesus was aware of stress in the life and so several times in Luke’s gospel, he’s having a talk with his disciples and no doubt they had their busyness and, you know, they were in Jesus’s ministry and no doubt that was a kind of busy time. But several times in Luke’s gospel, Jesus is talking to them, and he’ll say, “Do not worry.” Jesus picks up and says actually:
- Don’t worry about a thing
- Don’t worry about the food
- Don’t worry about your drink
- Don’t worry about the clothes. God knows what you need. He’ll provide for it. Which is a bit easier said than done.
But certainly Jesus was aware that we do get stressed, and he doesn’t undermine that and say, “Oh, it doesn’t happen.” You know, he’s a realist, but he does give us some direction on how we can handle it. But we do get stressed.
It’s part of anxiety, which is a real condition and obviously needs to be seen to and there’s plenty of help for that, which is fantastic, but how do you think we can kerb our stresses and our worries? You know, I find it very easy to read Jesus’s words, “Do not worry,” and think, “Oh yeah, I should not do that,” or, you know, don’t worry until tomorrow or look down the week until I see that stressful thing, but it’s so hard not to worry, right?
It is. I think we worry for two reasons.
- First, I believe that we think that ultimate success depends on us doing things or our ability. And when you realise our whole Christian life is based on the premise that you can’t do it without God’s help, you can’t do life well without God’s help, I think that’s part of the reason we feel the stress is because we consider everything in life, all successes depend on our efforts. And I think once we realise God is in control…yes, we want to be busy, yes, we want to be productive…but at the end of the day, all our strength and energy comes from Him, and we want to be working with His power in us. When you take that off, it’s quite liberating to know that success in life doesn’t depend predominantly on our efforts.
- Secondly, I think that one of the reasons that we stress is that we worry that God doesn’t have it in control, where Jesus reminds us that, “Look,” he points to a flower, he says, “Look at how beautiful that is,” you know. “That’s better looking than Solomon in all of his fancy clothes. Look at that bird over there. God provides food for the bird,” and he says “You’re not gonna add hair to your head by worrying,” and I don’t have many left anyway, okay? But, “You’re not gonna add a day to your life. Why? Just trust me. Trust in your Heavenly Father.” And I think that sometimes we get stressed because we believe it is all up to us, success depends on us, and sometimes it’s a lack of faith that, you know, God’s got this covered. God’s in control. And I think the more I let go and just relax and trust God, the less stressed I feel.
Sometimes I’m sitting here behind a radio panel, and I’m like, “I don’t know what I’m gonna do,” like, there’s a lot of stresses, even in a job like this but I think you’ve reminded me to look to Jesus.
It’s the big picture. Sometimes we get so lost in the details that we forget, “What are we doing again?” And I think whether it’s parenting, work, you can get so involved in the details that you miss the joy of the big picture.
It’s like recently I had the chance to be overseas in a part of the world where I took several people with me, and they were tourists. And for many of them, they had taken so many photos, I just thought to myself, “I hope they’re just enjoying the moment.” You know, we can get stressed, even in our relaxing vacation holiday time, we can still get stressed out because we miss it. It’s good to slow down now and then, pause, reflect. Just take in the sunshine and enjoy God and following Jesus, “Don’t worry.”
Don’t worry. Be happy perhaps?
Maybe. I’m not gonna play the song. Or sing it.
Each Sunday, FRESH presenter Sam Robinson chats with Malcolm Gill, lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), about different aspects of living the Christian life—or ‘running the race’. Hear them on air Sundays at 6.20am and 9.20am, or on FRESH just after 9pm each Saturday.