“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…'(Hebrews 3:12-15a).”
Stress is common is western society today. When I moved back to America last autumn, I immediately noticed the faster pace of life here. The hectic schedule combined with change has increased the amount of stress in my life.
Stresss is also caused when we perceive that we have to many things to deal with, but not enough resources. This causes a feeling of being overwhelmed. Long term stress, even of a low level variety, can deplete our energy.
There are a lot of things we can do about the impact of stress on our body and mind. We can exercise, eat right, get enough sleep, get rest and relaxation and do breathing exercises.
The Bible indicates that there is one more thing we can do. We can enter God’s rest. We do this by faith, trusting that God has finished His work beforehand on our behalf. We trust that He will take care of us when we are overhwhelmed. We do what we can with out limited resources and trust God to supply the rest (Hebrews 4:1-11).
The people of Israel refused to trust God when they left Egypt. They got thirsty in the desert and started pining for the old days. Their leader Moses even thought they were going to stone him over the situation. God provided water for the people, but the whole episode revealed their lack of trust in God and even caused Moses to stumble, leading to his punishment (Psalm 106:32).
The Bible says during the incident at Meribah, the people of Israel quarreled with God and tested him (Exodus 17:7). Interestingly enough. the Scriptures also say God was testing them. He had rescued them from Egypt after they had called to Him out of their stress. They probably thought, “Happy days are here again. Our troubles are over!”, But God wanted to see if these folks were just one-shot wonders. (Psalm 81:7).
It turns out they were. When things got rough again, they hardened their hearts toward God. They were unbelieving. As a result, they failed to enter God’s rest.
There are a couple lessons here. First, we have to be available to God to listen to His voice and do what he He says. Second, we need believing family and friends who will encourage us in our trust in God when we are under stress.
When I woke up this morning, I had a harsh sensation in my chest that was stress-induced. My heart was numb. I could have left it that way, gone on about my day and put God away. My heart would have hardened toward God.
That would have been a disaster. Instead, I made the effort to read the Bible, listen to God and pray alone and with my wife. I felt more fortified as I left for work.
Change and our way of life brings stress. Our stressors may actually be allowed by God so we will prove that we are not fair-weather friends of His, that we will trust Him to take care of us in our need. He will.