. . . or keeping our cool in an uncool world
stress management is difficult. but let’s face!
for many of us, especially those on the introverted side of the personality scale, the thought of having some isolation time sounds appealing! sweet peace-and-quiet! i mean, who hasn’t dreamed of being stranded on the proverbial desert island where one can just sit under the palm trees, watch the sunset over a beautiful surf while dining on fresh fish and coconuts – maybe on those rare moments when we do feel like talking we turn to our only friend, the soccer ball named wilson?
suddenly, we are jerked back into reality! there are children dashing and shrieking around the house! parents are looking as haggard as they feel! why did we have to buy that dog? can somebody please get that beast to stop barking and chasing the kids? can’t anybody play outside? hey! this isolation stuff isn’t as restful as we hoped!
there’s old anxiety, and depression, still knocking at the backdoor. sometimes they even move right in and stay! could it be that we humans don’t thrive in isolation for very long? “it is not good for man to be alone,” (genesis 2:18) has a familiar ring to it, doesn’t it?
wait, but i’m not alone!
i and all these other people are just stuck in this small space together! why didn’t we buy that multi-thousand square foot home instead of this cracker-box?
is there any way of staying sane in these crazy times? really! what are we to do? we’ve mastered many of the dance routines we always said we would try if we just had the time. we know the home-schooling videos forwards and backwards. when we do get outside for a walk, we have to dodge other people, dogs, bicyclists, and caution tape. caution tape! i don’t know about where you live, but i have seen more caution tape in one afternoon than in six seasons of ncis!
so, while mom is trying to remember how to bake pancakes from scratch – after all, she does have to do something with all that flour dad brought home . . . “everybody was clearing out the aisle with the flour and the pasta so i picked up a little extra myself,” was the rationale behind that one – dad is doing pushups in the living room. junior is practicing “chopsticks” on the piano for the 20th time today, susie is crying because she is tired of “chopsticks,” and she is “just going to die,” if she has to hear it one more time. can anybody spell stress!!!???
so, stress management?
maybe, just maybe, jesus knew what he was talking about when he said, “in this world you have tribulation, but take courage; i have overcome the world” (john 16:33).
so, how do we tap into this “over-coming” stuff anyway?
1. establish a good habit and pursue god
what if we were to make good use of this season of our lives by getting around to that conviction we’ve been meaning to get around to? i mean, putting down the iphone and the tv remote, and picking up the bible. are you looking for encouragement in the midst of all this talk about disease and sickness, even death? you know you have been wanting to have more devo’s with the family. you know you desire more time with god and his word. you know you have wanted more time for prayer. how about it? to establish a good habit only takes about as long as we are being asked to isolate.
and what better place to start than the psalms!? here’s old, “whiner, whiner, forty-niner,” king david pouring out his heart to god about how hard life is, or how frightened he is. but amidst all his whining, david knew where to turn for help, peace, and encouragement:
“bless the lord oh, my soul, and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!”
or that old hymn we don’t sing often enough still holds true:
“turn your eyes upon jesus; look full in his wonderful face.
and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim. in the light of his glory and grace.”
so, why waste this time of tribulation?
making good use of our time in pursuit of god is not just a distraction from our worries. it will always bear fruit. in ourselves, and our family.
2. look for joy
yep, life can be difficult, but part of stress management is looking for joyous moments. and you don’t have to go to some desert island to find peace. remember, it was the god-man of galilee that came out of a humble carpenter’s shop in nazareth that promised,
“these things i have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; i have overcome the world.”
shalom! may god’s peace be with you!
professor rich schell has been teaching at boise bible college for over 15 years. he graduated from boise bible college, and then went on to receive his master’s in counseling. he has been counseling families, individuals, and many others in the church for many years as well as teaching students how to incorporate biblical principles with psychology.
currently, he adjunct teaches at boise bible college in the christian psychology department.
there are some excellent christian resources for the whole family, that can be used as a springboard to great conversations such as:
- the chosen video series
- “the new creation” dr. derek voorhees, president of boise bible college, at eagle christian church
- if you really want to hear an encouraging report, tune in to this sermon. my wife and i were having tears of joy and hope as we listened to dr. voorhees open the scriptures regarding the hope we have in christ!