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Dealing with Stress

by Donald Geddes — last modified Oct 26, 2014 08:05 AM
We are told that 75% of all doctor visits are stress related. Stress is a major health issue which cannot be ignored. It leads to anxiety, depression and burn-out.

Stress is identified as a cause in a whole raft of health disorders such as migraine headaches, muscle tension, high blood pressure, insomnia and stomach ulcers.

It is generally agreed that we live in a stressful world where the pressures of modern living are increasing the levels of stress on individuals.

Why is life becoming more and more stressful? One reason usually overlooked is the breaking of the Fourth Command to, ‘remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.’ (NIV) Ex 20:8

God instituted the Sabbath as a day of rest — a circuit-breaker from the stresses of daily life and work. It was a day when God’s people were to focus on His redemption and provision for them. The essence of their Sabbath worship was the offering of sacrifices and rejoicing in the Lord (Deut. 12:5–12). This was no dull and dreary ritual. It was corporate rejoicing and renewal. It was a turning of minds from the cares of the world to contemplating the glory of the Eternal God. This was the perfect antidote for stress.

By working seven days a week we have become slaves to work. In God’s perfect plan for mankind this was never meant to be. Such self-induced slavery has been motivated by materialism. We have made idols of money and possessions to the exclusion of worship of the Lord and we are paying a heavy price for this in increased stress levels and associated health problems.The Sabbath rest was built into the very framework of creation. It was necessary for the smooth function of the world.

The importance of the Sabbath was underlined in Ex. 31:17 where a literal translation suggests that on the seventh day God paused to get His breath after a hectic week of creating!

The Sabbath also provided the opportunity for families to strengthen their bonds as they worshipped together. The family was meant to be a refuge from stress — a haven of happiness and relaxation.

Today fractured, scattered and dysfunctional families deprive far too many of any place of relief for stress. By neglecting the Sabbath we have inadvertently provided the cause of fracturing families.

The Sabbath was not meant to be a gloomy day but rather a time of rejoicing in the Lord and His goodness. Paul told the Christians at Philippi to ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ He emphasised the importance of this by adding ‘I will say it again: Rejoice!’ This is a command! He said that was one way in which they could stand firm when facing persecution and difficulties.

Rejoicing is a necessary element of worship. It is, of course, something we can do as individuals at any time, but it is also an essential part of corporate worship. When we rejoice in the Lord, it greatly relieves our stress levels. It renews our spirit and strengthens our faith in God and His goodness. This is why regular attendance at Sunday worship is essential.

If you have the joy of the Lord, it is unlikely you will become stressed.