Message from Sunday, October 7th, 2018
"Jesus Is the Best Reliever of Stress"
Matthew 11: 25-30
It’s accurate to say that we all experience stress in our lives. It comes from all kinds of sources. Our way of life in this country is responsible for much of the stress we endure, in my opinion. We’re expected to be constantly on the go. It’s probably worse for young families. They still have children at home. There are all kinds of activities they are expected to be at. It could be sports activities; it could be extra-curricular activities after school throughout the week. Parents are expected to volunteer to help with some of these activities. What makes this stressful is that parents have to fit in all these activities on top of their work schedule.
One might think that life gets easier as we get older. But life doesn’t become a piece of cake once the kids are grown up and gone. Maybe some of us have to deal with the stress of health problems. Or, maybe we have to take care of our aging parents. That’s not easy.
Maybe some of us are dealing with the stress of finding purpose and meaning. Sometimes when the children leave home, parents don’t know what to do. We have to readjust their lives, and that can cause stress.
Maybe some of us aren’t happy with our work life. It’s not as exciting and rewarding as it once was. Trying to find work that will bring us happiness can be stressful, especially if we’re not sure what God wants us to do. He doesn’t always spell things out for us on a piece of paper. We wish it all would be clear to us.
Or, some of us have lost a spouse. That creates a lot of stress. Things that the spouse used to take care of now fall in our lap. It’s not easy to have to learn how to take care of matters that our spouse handled.
What about the stress of having to meet our obligations to the government? We have to pay taxes each year. The rules can be complicated. My bet, though, is that quite a few of us have a professional tax person do our taxes for us. That’s how we have eliminated that particular stress in our life.
What about the stress of trying to meet the reasonable expectations that others have of us? We feel this pressure not to disappoint others. We don’t want to let them down.
What about the stress of dealing with change? Change is constantly happening in our world. Change may mean we have to learn something new. It’s not always easy to grasp something that we’re unfamiliar with. I think of computers. They’re constantly changing. We have to learn a new operating system. We just got used to using one and now Microsoft issues a new one. That can cause us stress.
Our lives are full of stress. It will always be this way. Some of the circumstances that cause us stress we can control. But there are circumstances we can’t control. We’re simply at their mercy. And all this stress is a result of sin in our world. This isn’t how God originally intended us to live. Adam and Eve enjoyed peace and a stress-free life in the Garden. But that all changed as we very well know. Today, we are under a lot of stress because we live in an imperfect world.
We all try to alleviate the stress in our life. We need a break from time to time. We need rest and peace. Unfortunately, some people turn to the wrong thing to help them deal with stress. They seek the wrong kind of break or rest from it all. How many tragic stories have we heard where people have overdosed on drugs? That was their way of coping with stress in their life. But it ended tragically for them. From what I understand there is an opioid crisis in our country. People are turning to pills to help them cope with physical pain and the stress that pain causes in their lives.
Alcohol is another thing people turn to to help them deal with the stress in their lives. Sad to say, it sometimes turns into an addiction. The irony is that the person who is using alcohol to relieve stress in his life is causing stress in other people’s lives, like in the lives of his relatives. His addiction doesn’t bring him ultimate peace.
Some turn to complaining. Maybe the complaining will make the stress go away. It almost never ever does, but people do it anyway, even us.
Our text, however, suggests a much, much better alternative: God. Jesus encourages us to turn to Him because He will give us rest. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Wow, Jesus is offering us a much better way to deal with the stress in our life.
We get a foretaste of Jesus’ rest here in church. The hour we’re here should cause us to take our minds off our cares and worries. It should take our mind off of what’s happening in the world. The church is a place where we are relieved of our stress—that’s how it should be, anyway. Here we can concentrate on praising God and giving Him thanks for all the good He has sent into our lives. We can reflect on the ultimate rest we will experience in His kingdom. Our church ought to be a stress-free environment. We ought to be able to relax and let our guard down. This is a safe haven. Again, here in church we experience a foretaste of God’s eternal rest.
But I’m sure many of us don’t see it this way. “Going to church is something I gotta do. What is so stress free about that?” I’ve learned over the years that a lot depends on perspective. If we program ourselves to think that the church is a burden rather than a place where we can let go of what is stressing us out in life, then the church will be a burden to us. If we condition ourselves to think that the church is a place where we can experience God’s rest, then it will be that kind of place. I would encourage us to see the church as a place where we can get a foretaste of what living in God’s kingdom will be like.
I hope we see Jesus’ rest here in church. I also hope we see Jesus’ rest on the sabbath day which is Sunday for us. When God created the sabbath, He meant it to be a day of rest for us. But, of course, we have turned that upside down. Who wants to sit around all day and reflect on the Lord? It's all about watching football and doing other things that take our mind away from the Lord.
The sabbath was really meant to be a blessing from God. Who doesn’t like to rest when he/she is tired? The sabbath was intended to give us a break from all our labor and give us taste of what it will be like to rest in God’s eternal kingdom. But like usual, man takes what God has done and turns it upside down. A day that God intended to give us rest has been turned into a day of stress for many people.
I would encourage us to seek God’s rest in this stressful world. Turn to Jesus for peace in your life. Don’t turn to people. People are the biggest cause of stress in the world today. Think about the stress you may be experiencing in your life right now. What is the cause of it? Most likely another person.
Doesn’t it make sense, then, to turn to Jesus, Who says His burden and yoke are light? It certainly makes sense, but we don’t believe it. Let’s get rid of our unbelief and start living a life that isn’t overwhelmed by stress. Let the Holy Spirit convince us that turning to Jesus is the best way to deal with our stress in life.
Let’s always remember to give God thanks for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Had He not done these two things we would have no chance to ever enter His eternal rest. May God’s peace reign in our life and may we seek His rest.