Coping with Stress

Life can be very stressful. Everyone faces, at one time or another, something that knocks them down or shakes them up. There seems to be 5 categories of stressors, I call them the 5 D’s…

  • DEATH – when someone close to us dies.
  • DISEASE – when we get sick or hurt and it changes how we live.
  • DIVORCE – when issues in marriage come up (not just a divorce itself).
  • DILEMMA – when non-health related issues arise, like loss of a job.
  • DEPENDENTS – when issues affecting our children.

This is not an exhaustive list, but most difficulties fall within one of these 5 categories. How do we handle it when we get bad news increasing our stress levels?

For a lot of folks, they run away or try to avoid the problem. Here are a few other negative coping mechanisms…

  • Acting out – not coping, but giving in to misbehave
  • Denial – refusing to acknowledge the problem
  • Distancing – moving away from the problem
  • Emotionality – outbursts and extreme emotion
  • Passive Aggression – avoiding refusal by passive avoidance
  • Provocation – getting others to react so you can retaliate
  • Somatization – psychological problems turned into physical symptoms

A clear example of this are those in Acts 7 who had become completely enraged when confronted with the reality they had killed The Messiah.

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” [Acts 7:54-58]

In another place, when Nehemiah learned of the distress of his people, he wept. “And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted,” [Neh 1:4]

Stress is unavoidable, coping with it in a godly way is a choice and a blessing from God. How can we handle stress in a godly way? One of the ways is prayer.

In the Acts 7 passage, when Stephen was under attack, he prayed… “And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” [Acts 7:60]

What did Nehemiah do in his stressful situation? He prayed. “and prayed before the God of heaven, And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned..” [Neh 2:4-6]

It doesn’t take much time, it can be done in a moment. When asked about his sorrow by the king… “So I prayed to the God of heaven.” [Neh 2:4]

What is your first response to stress? Is it to run away? Is it to lash out at the one you perceive is the cause? Is it denial? None of these will be of any help in your time of need.

God’s people have the avenue of prayer, let that be our first response.

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.” [James 5:13]

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“You guys think you’re the only ones going to heaven.”

Has anyone ever challenged you with this statement after telling them to which church you belong? Did you know what to say?

Before we offer an answer to this accusation, we need to identify it for what it is; it’s an intellectually dishonest accusation based upon an unstudied position. It’s emotionally charged based on another similar question; “will God actually send good people to hell?”

Here’s another way of stating these charges; “do you mean to tell me that God is going to send people to hell who disregard His authority and choose not to follow the whole counsel of God?”

When stated this way, you can begin to see the answer to their claims.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. [Acts 20:27]

Most, if not all, attacks come from a position of partial understanding of God’s word. The real answer to most attacks should be “who has all authority, and how do we know what it is?” when faced with an emotionally charged criticism, I ask this question; “What does the bible say?

Jesus has “all authority” [Mat 28:18], and He alone has the right to determine under what conditions salvation is determined. He said that judgment will be based upon the standard of God’s word [John 12:48] and if this is true, are we to teach it accurately? Do any of us have the right to teach less or to add more to His word? Certainly not!

If the bible teaches that only those who have been added to the Lord’s church are saved [Acts 2:47], then to teach otherwise is to be a false teacher. To belong to a church not mentioned in the Bible is to disregard God’s word, the word upon which the determination of saved or lost is made.

The Lord’s church.
  • Jesus said; “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” [Mat 16:18] He could have built 1,000 churchES, but He only promised to build ONE.
  • Jesus purchased ONE church; “… the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” [Acts 20:28]
  • Jesus is the head of His church; “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body,” [Eph 1:22-23]
  • Jesus will save His body; “…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” [Eph 5:23b]

How many bodies (churches) did He build, purchase, is the head of and is the savior of? We read about followers of Christ assembling in local congregations called ‘churches of Christ.’ [Rom 16:16] These are not different denominations teaching different doctrines. These are adherents to God’s word assembling as commanded in their home towns.

Some argue that there are many members of that one body in all the denominations. Can that even make sense? Don’t forget about the word that judges us in the last day. Denominations teach different things about salvation, sin, worship, faith, apostacy etc. Some teach & bind MORE than what the bible teaches on these subjects. Can we be a part of a denomination that adds to or takes away from God’s word and say you’re following the whole counsel of God? When we examine the scriptures, we find the expectation that the same thing be taught to every person. [1Cor 1:10-14]

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.” [1Cor 4:17]

A word of caution; not every person who attends a “church of Christ” belongs to Him. There are some who are in unrepented sin or practicing error. Revelation 2 & 3 also teaches that entire congregations have left their first love, hold the doctrine of Balaam, allow false teachers in, are spiritually dead, and are lukewarm. Jesus said to one congregation, “for I have not found thy works perfect before God.” [Rev 3:2]. They were not completely following God’s word!

If those who are in the Lord’s church are in jeopardy for not following His will, what makes you think He’s going to overlook denominational error?!