Stressed OUT or Stress LESS?

Psalm 46

Have you ever been stressed out? Ever wished you could stress less? Reports show that 44% of Americans feel more stressed than they did a year ago, and that stress is the basic cause of 60% of all human illness and disease. Think about that! And the worst part is, it’s only getting worse! A Time Magazine article entitled, “Americans Are Getting More Stressed Out, Study Finds” points out that women are more stressed than men, millennials are more stressed than previous generations, and the top two sources of stress are money and work.

If you don’t get stress under control, you are putting your entire well-being at risk. Stress wreaks havoc on your emotional equilibrium as well as your physical health. It narrows your ability to think clearly, function effectively, and enjoy life. So how do you handle stress? How do you learn to stress less instead of being overrun by your problems and stress? Think about what is stressing you out right now and apply what you learn from Psalm 46 as we walk through it.

Here are 2 considerations from Psalm 46 for stressing less:

1: Realize that pressure and stress (troubles, problems, and worry) will come.

  • Read verses 1-3.
  • Ps. 46 was composed by the Sons of Korah and is a song of triumph and fearless trust in God.
    • The Israelites understood stress. They were used to being literally attacked from every side.
    • They would sing this Psalm and celebrate God’s faithfulness amidst their trials. This helped them focus on God’s strength. Therein lies a key for all of us. When my stress is greater than my strength, I need to turn to the one whose strength is greater than my stress.
  • Ps. 46 has been a source of encouragement for many throughout the years. Bach wrote a cantata based on it and Martin Luther wrote and composed the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” which paraphrases it. Luther’s message, the hymn’s message, and Ps. 46’s message is the same – that God is faithful and He will see us through.
  • We cannot always be prepared, but we don’t always have to be surprised either. There is a lot to be stressed about in life and lots to worry about, so we must lean into God and learn from Scripture. God has answers for us and He desires to give us strength.

2: Remember that you can overcome your pressure and stresses in God’s strength.

  • Read verses 1-11.
  • Stress, problems, challenges, will come – but we can overcome! We need to remind ourselves of God’s strength.
  • When stress and challenges come, remember these 10 P’s to Peace:
    • Promise: Vs. 1 is a great picture of promise. “God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
    • Personal: Vs. 1 says “God,” Himself, is the one who will help us.  He does not delegate this to someone else.  Our God is a personal God.
    • Protection: Vs. 1 reminds us that God is our “refuge.”  He is our fortress.  He is our safe place.  He will protect us.
    • Power: Vs. 1 speaks to God’s “strength.”  God is our refuge and strength.  There is no foe too great and no power greater than our God’s. And our God will fight for us.
    • Presence: Vs. 1 states that God is “ever present” and always on time. He will “never leave us…”
    • Perspective: And finally, in the NIV translation of Vs. 1, we see that “God” is the first word and “trouble” is the last word.  Make sure you put God our front of your troubles.  Our trouble looks different when our God is fighting our battles for us. In your heart, in your mind, in your prayers, put God out in front when facing problems.  Think more about God than your stresses.  Remember that your God is greater than your problems.
    • Practical obedience: Vs. 3 states, “Therefore we will not fear.”  Why? Because of God! That’s what vs 1 tells us.  Because God is my refuge and strength…I do not need to live in fear and be overwhelmed by stress.  I can and I must trust in Him.  There is no need to be dominated by fear, even when our world falls apart, because God will be there for us, even in the midst of our challenges.
    • Permanence: Vs. 4-6 references a river, but Jerusalem has no river. This is metaphorical for the continued blessings of God. The phrase “At break of day” alluded to the typical time when the enemy would attack. What the psalmist is saying here is that even when the attack or pressure or stress is greatest, God’s blessings are still sure. He is faithful. He is constant. He is true.
    • Prevail: Vs. 8-10 reminds us that God will prevail and that He is superior over all. There is no foe too great for Him. The idea behind “be still” in verse 10 means “enough” in the Hebrew.  Meaning, God saying stop fretting and stressing all the time! There comes a point when “enough is enough” and we must choose to turn it over to God and trust in Him.  ‘“Be still” and “know” that I am God.’  Acknowledge that God is greater than your stresses, pressures and problems.
    • Praise: Vs. 7 through 11 point to our continual affirmation of praise. Why is praise important? It gives God the glory He is due. And it gives me “real-time” clarity of how great my God is. And that grows my faith and builds my spirit!

What should we do with our stress?  Give it to God.

1 Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Notice what this scripture says: we are to cast, or give or throw, ALL our stresses on Him. Why? Because He cares for us! So why do we hold onto our stresses and pressures and anxieties?

Understand this about stress, pressure, worry, and trouble.

    • When I don’t cast – I carry.
    • When I don’t throw – I hold onto.
    • When I don’t give – I keep.

God wants you and me to cast all of our cares, our worries, our stresses and anxieties on Him…because He cares for us! He loves us more than we know and more than we deserve. His love is unconditional and everlasting.

Psalm 46 reminds us to give our stresses to God and He will give us His strength in exchange. And peace will follow! Now that, folks, is a great tradeoff! God’s peace in exchange for my stress. 

Let’s start casting!