When stress is greater than strength

Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church Sun Lakes

A Portuguese proverb says: “That’s too much sand for my truck.” Does that ever happen to you? From time to time, all of us probably load too much sand (figuratively speaking) into our trucks. For while there are many people who live beyond their means financially, there are also those who live beyond their means emotionally. Consequently, it’s very important that we understand our emotional reserves. We all have a certain amount at the beginning of each day and, therefore, we must identify those influences that would drain our emotions dry. Equally important is to identify those influences that renew and recharge us.

Can you pinpoint the triggers that drain you? Is it traffic, noise, argumentative acquaintances, sleeplessness, busyness, negative people? Some things, of course, cannot be totally avoided. But we can, in many cases, decrease our exposure to them. And those of us who are believers can ask God to give us more control over our responses. So, we must identify our emotional limits and not make additional withdrawals if we are already depleted.

Furthermore, it’s very important to also identify those activities that strengthen and recharge our emotions. These may include positive people, laughter, rest, music, worship, reading and meditating on Scripture and spending time outdoors. Dr. Richard Swenson, a Christian physician, suggests specifically scheduling space in your energy budget for the important matter of recharging your batteries. Energy budget? Yes, why not? A monetary budget brings spending under control and reduces stress. Likewise, budgeting our energy in an appropriate way can also reduce stress and bring about the control and renewal of our emotions. As a result, many people would avoid ulcers, migraines, nervous tension and who knows how many other symptoms that mark our emotional overload.

Psalm 131 is a short Psalm, but it sure packs a punch! I have been encouraged and instructed by it for several years now. King David writes: “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” In David’s song, he is not pursuing things for himself, but rather a life that honors and pleases God. He goes on to say, “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” David is determined to wrestle down his unruly soul. He knows the value of trusting the Lord and resting in Him. God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”

We are all human beings. Therefore, none of us have an infinite capacity for emotional pressure. But we can call upon the Lord, trust in Him and receive from Him the rest, renewal and strength we need for each day we live. Now that’s good news! Be encouraged by reading and reflecting on Lamentations 3:21-25.