Too Stressed to Be Blessed?
Pastor Ricky Kurth
It stopped me dead in my tracks.
At the height of the pandemic my wife was watching the news, and as I passed through the room, I heard some expert being interviewed about the coronavirus. She said, “If you’re not stressed by all of this, there’s something wrong with you!” Her words stopped me cold, for I remember thinking, “No, if you’re not stressed by all this, there’s something right with you!”
You see, the apostle Paul says we should “rejoice in the Lord alway” and “be careful” (or full of care) “for nothing,” but rather pray about “every thing” (Phil. 4:4-6). If you can do that, he promises that “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (v. 7).
The reason we can always rejoice in Christ is that “God… hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places—in Christ” (Eph. 1:3), and those immutable blessings cannot be altered by circumstances. They stand impervious in the face of any and all of the unsettling things that can happen in our lives. That’s what enabled Paul to offer us “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding.”
The trick to experiencing that peace, however, is found in remembering how blessed we are. That’s why Paul reminds us of our blessings by opening all his letters with the words “grace” and “peace.” If you can keep all that God has done for you by His grace in mind, you can have the peace that He designed His grace to give you. And that’s why Paul’s words to the Philippians always make me think of the interdispensational principle set forth in Isaiah 26:3, where the prophet prayed,
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.”
If you’d like to enjoy the “perfect” peace that the prophet mentions here, you have to learn to keep your mind “stayed” on the God of whom Isaiah went on to say,
“Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for Thou also hast wrought all our works in us” (v. 12).
God has ordained “all our works” in us too. But the only way we can experience the perfect peace that God’s Word can empower us to have is to be “stayed” on Him—as stayed as the mighty oceans are “stayed” from overwhelming our shores by the power of God’s Word (Job 38:8-11). If your mind is as stayed on the Word of God as the seven seas are, God can keep turmoil and unrest from encroaching on your peace as effectively as He keeps the oceans from encroaching on the continents.
You see, His grace has given us “peace with God” (Rom. 5:1), so that’s our standing with Him. And “when He giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?” (Job 34:29). If you can learn to “stand” in the unassailable tranquility that “grace” like that gives us (Rom. 5:2), you can experience “the peace of God” that Paul says is available to us all in Philippians 4:5-7.
Of course, only believers can enjoy peace like this. The peace of unbelievers is always dependent on their circumstances. If their circumstances are calm, they have peace. If their circumstances are in turmoil, either personally or in the world about them, they know nothing but unrest. No wonder the Lord told His disciples,
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, and neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
That’s why Paul told the Colossians to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). God’s peace is never daunted by His circumstances, even though the current circumstances of the world He created are sure to vex His holiness in ways that we can’t even begin to fathom. If you let that kind of peace rule your heart as it does His, then pandemics will roll off of you like water off a duck’s back, along with any other challenge to faith that the world, the flesh, or the devil can conjure up.
So “acquaint now thyself with Him, and be at peace” and “thereby good shall come unto thee” (Job 22:21). In times like we just endured with the Covid-19 virus, even many believers felt too stressed to be blessed. But in reality, we are “too blessed to be stressed,” as a popular Christian saying has expressed so well. “The Lord of Peace Himself” is willing to “give you peace always by all means” (2 Thes. 3:16), but you have to be willing to always “rejoice” in your blessings to maintain that peace.
So in times of turmoil, remember to keep God’s reassuring words in mind: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10). That’s the very definition of being “careful” or full of care “for nothing.” It is the exact nature of being spiritually minded, and “to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:6).
In short: if you’re not stressed in times of turmoil, there’s something right with you, not wrong!