By David Faust
Are you ready for a break? Sometimes Jesus had his disciples “come apart” with him and get away from the crowds for a while. It’s been said that if we don’t come apart with Jesus, we simply come apart. Henry Kissinger once said, “There cannot be a stressful crisis next week. My schedule is already full.” I can relate to that.
Work is stressful. Insecurity plagues the American labor force. Workers and managers in every sector of society feel the pressure. Many are being asked to “make bricks without straw”—to produce more results with fewer resources.
The news is stressful. It’s unnerving to hear daily reports about instability in Europe, North Korea, and the Middle East. Here at home, public trust in our national leaders has plummeted to unprecedented lows while violence, drug addiction, and financial woes plague our major cities.
Even church is stressful. The percentage of the population attending church at all continues to nosedive. Tensions rise as the torch passes to a new generation that appreciates
different music and embraces a different leadership style.
We’re stressed—but we’re also blessed beyond measure.
Lately have you been content, or have you been cynical? Do you mainly complain about what you lack, or do you appreciate what you have? Jesus was realistic: “In this world you will have trouble.” Then he went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We can be realistic about our problems while appreciating our blessings. In the midst of stress, we can thank God for our jobs, our nation, our families and friends.
Faith Is the Victory
We live by faith. Pessimists see the cup half empty. Optimists see the cup half full. Believers simply
thank God for whatever water he’s given. John summed it up by saying, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
Remember Paul’s triumphant question and answer session in Romans 8:35, 37? “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Faith gives us victory as it alters our interactions with others and shapes the attitude we take with us to work and to church. Faith enables us to exist in the realm of the seen while trusting in reality of the unseen. Years pass quickly, but faith in the eternal God changes the way we view aging. As G. K. Chesterton put it, “We have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Unbelief Is the Defeat
It’s sad to witness so much skepticism about God in our culture. If we no longer confess the words, “In God We Trust,” then in what or in whom do we believe?
Without faith in the living God, life is pointless and death is hopeless. Without faith, we are victims of our circumstances. Without a vibrant and healthy faith, religion degenerates into rigid dogma and joyless performance. Without faith we lose sight of the positive, wallow in the negative, and have no one to thank when we feel the impulse to be grateful.
Let’s take a break this week and ask God to strengthen our faith. And while we’re at it, let’s thank him that even though we’re stressed, we’re also greatly blessed.
1. What has been stressing you out lately?
2. How does faith in Christ affect the way you handle stress?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for November 23, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
1 John 4:1–6
1 John 4:7–21
1 John 5:1–12
1 John 5:13–21
Daniel 1, 2
2 John 1–13
Daniel 3, 4
3 John 1–14
Daniel 5, 6