The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- Psalm 23:1-6
“Stress: That confusion created when one’s mind overrides the body’s desire to choke the living daylights out of some jerk who desperately needs it.
“No, you won’t find that definition in the dictionary, but right now I think it should be. It’s been one of those weeks. They have come before … they will come again. Know what I mean?
“Overcommitment. Deadlines. Unrealized expectations. People problems. A stack of phone calls to return. A couple of major interruptions. …
”’Lighten up’ is a start. Try not to make a federal case out of everything that happens. Then, laugh more.
“Above all, turn to God. Tell Him everything. He has no problem hearing about our hurts. Furthermore, He can keep any secret you tell Him. He can even handle it when you yell.
“As the pounding [from headaches, heart palpitations, etc.] lessens, so will the pain. … Don’t let stress fracture you.”
- Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Point
I may have wanted to touch on this subject, just to have a quote from a noted minister who readily admitted that he wanted to choke someone because they desperately needed to be choked. Priceless!! Of course, he would have never said that to the person’s face. And to think, most people that I know are on their best behavior around the minister, as if that gives you extra brownie points for Heaven.
I have had several months of extreme stress. I felt God calling me to perform a comedy act at the church, self-induced stress, if you will. That happened on 17 October 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of me becoming born-again. But as a result of watching the video of the performance, I realized that my shortness of breath was getting really bad. As one test led to another test and finally a heart catheterization, my wife finally got the results of some tests that led to her thyroid and parathyroid surgery, removing half of each. I had one of my tests while waiting for her surgery to be finished. As her body started readjusting to everything being out of balance, only one medication being changed, and now living with half of what she used to have to regulate the endocrine system, I had a doctor adjust my heart medications, having only found a “big heart” after all the tests were done. Then I was put on the low FODMAP diet for something totally different.
Then, during that, our younger son had medical/mental issues that caused him to spend two and a half months out of work – right through and beyond the Christmas holidays. With no real financial resources, we sprung into action to bring Christmas to our son’s family, but mostly for our three grandchildren. Our son had a rocky patch in getting back to steady work, but his two oldest children started having behavioral problems at school, probably due, in part, to the stress at home. We got confirmation that the 2nd grader was being bullied and we think her older brother was also. Funny how the one being bullied has the parent-teacher conference and the bullies go away with nothing being said or done about it. I guess it’s just too much paperwork or maybe the teachers think the bullies are lost causes.
As a result, I came back to Pennsylvania to start a slow downsizing of our ‘stuff.’ My wife remained in Tennessee to babysit the youngest grandson, who is more than enough – maybe too much – for my wife to handle. If the finances can become straight, things might get back to a new normal – probably never the same as they were.
I wrote all this, not as a complaint, because God is in control, but to let everyone else know that, if I choose to get frustrated, forgetting that God has the situation in His hands, I might just think as Swindoll thought – whoever the poor soul is who snapped the last straw might just get the living daylights choked out of them, because they desperately need it.
No, I may growl like a grizzly bear, but I rarely go further than that.
What always seems to cure the stressssed out times of my life has been going to God in prayer. As Swindoll says, God is great about keeping secrets, and He can handle yelling. When kneeling next to the bed, pounding your fists onto the mattress alleviates some of the tension that builds up during stressful times. It doesn’t do much for the mattress…
But sometimes, it takes those stressssed out moments to help us understand Psalm 23. Did you know that sheep fear moving water, afraid to fall in and drown? So, leading me to quiet waters might simply be a spot where the shepherd has made the water calm, by floating a ring of wood, or anything that floats, blocking the moving water and providing still water for the sheep to take a drink.
If God does that for us, why do we keep staring at the moving water, remaining in a constant state of fear? Notice that the moving water is still there, close by. The darkest valley (or the valley of death from the KJV) is still there. But God walks with us and provides a means of drinking water without becoming drowned.
For a quick status: I am getting to understand the low FODMAP diet (very complicated) – trying a variety of interesting recipes, and I am feeling better. The finances seem to be my only constant question before God – not knowing or having any control over HOW God is going to solve that one. My wife may remain in sinus distress, with other aches and pains, until she moves back to PA, between children being around with their germs that they love to share and living in a warmer climate – pollen, etc. – with animals ( a tamed dog, tamed guinea pigs – not calling the untamed grandchildren ‘animals’ – never). Our son has put in a stretch of a couple of weeks without taking an unpaid day off to destress and address his sinus issues and constant ear infections. Our daughter-in-law is back taking college classes and has been selected for another honorary society. The oldest of their children needs therapy that has yet to be scheduled, but he is doing better since his father is doing better (that kind of kid – he feels people’s pain, an empathic person like his grandmother). His little sister is being driven to and from school to avoid the bus fights started by the bullies. And the youngest continues to get in trouble, knowing that his Oma (my wife) isn’t that fast, and he can have a lot of fun before she catches him.
We can lay our stressss at the feet of Jesus. He is the Good Shepherd, and He will guide us home.
And if anyone wondered, ‘Stressss’ is spelled with an extra “s” or two, depending. God can even handle a misspelled word and an extra “s” or two.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.