North Santa Rosa

Living with Purpose by Matt Dobson

Anxiety has been called the great plague of modern society. This means stress affects both the young and old. Two boys, ages 8 and 10 were brothers, and they were excessivelymischievous. They were always getting into trouble. Their parents knew that if any mischief occurred in their small town, their sons were probably involved. The boy’s mother heard that a certain pastor in town had been successful in disciplining children, so she asked if he would speak with her boys. The pastor agreed, but asked to see them individually. So, the mother sent her 8 year old first. The pastor, a big man with a booming voice, sat the younger boy down and asked him sternly, “Where is God?” The boys mouth dropped open, but he made no response. So, the pastor repeated the question in an even sterner tone, “Where is God?” Again the boy made no attempt to answer. So the pastor raised his voice even more and shook his finger in the boy’s face and bellowed, “Where is God?” The boy screamed and bolted from the room, ran straight home, and dove into his closet, slamming the door behind him. When his older brother found him in the closet, he asked, “What happened?” The younger brother, gasping for breath, replied, “We’re in BIG trouble this time, dude! I’m really nervous! God is missing…and they think WE did it!” We all find ourselves experiencing stress and anxiety from time to time, but it shouldn’t paralyze us or keep us from being able to function in a calm state. We could all use some reassurance when faced with heightened stress levels.

Emotional reactions and outbursts come to us as a result of very definite things and at very definite times. If you’ll take the time to consider the things that make you most vulnerable to stress then you’re on your way to managing stress and anxiety in a more positive way. Several years ago the Coca Cola Company used a marketing slogan for its famous soda: “The pause that refreshes…” There’s truth and value in taking a moment before reacting to unexpected circumstances or situations. Don’t give a reflex response. Let the dust settle for a bit. Sort through your mind the events that took place or things that were just said. Consider the consequences of your reactions to a stress response. Go for a walk, listen to some music, look out the window, even talk it out with a friend. We can manage our stress if we would just use good judgment after taking a moment to consider how our reactions can help or hinder the situation.

It seems society is under the impression it has to fix everything…immediately. People get frustrated when they can’t and this leads to stress and anxiety attacks. You know you and your family are stressed when no one has time to wait for microwave TV dinners, or when the number of jobs held down by family members exceeds the number of people in the family, or when conversations often begin with “Put the gun down, and then we can talk”. I heard of a family that was so stressed, even the pet cat was on Valium! For the average person, fears, hate, insecurity, regrets, and guilt feelings clog up the mind and thought process like a “log-jam” on a river. Practice emptying your mind of all the clutter at least once a day; more if possible. And especially at night right before you go to bed. This practice will help you deal with it all and give you the best chance for a good night’s sleep. If you make a conscious effort to do this, relief from anxiety can be yours. In my time as a pastor, I’ve found the invaluable act of having someone to whom you can, in confidence, empty your troubled mind. Do this, and thenremember what the Bible says to do next: “…forget those things that are behind…and press on…” (Phil. 3:13-14).

We could all use a healthy dose of reassurance. It’s amazing the quandaries we find ourselves in just because we allow stress to build without employing a healthy coping mechanism. Let’s consider for a brief moment what the Bible has to say to reassure us during our most stressful moments. Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will give you strength, and for sure I will help you. Yes, I will hold you up with My right hand…” The Lord reassures Christians so they can effectively deal with stress and anxiety: 1) Reassurance Brings Comfort. Our world is saturated with suffering, sorrow, separation, and surprise events. Those who come to God in simple trusting faith are comforted with the reassurance of His presence. 2) Reassurance Brings Calmness. Today’s troubled world is searching for peace in the midst of violence, crime, and threats of destruction. God reassures us with His promise: “The Peace of God is much greater than the human mind can understand. This peace will keep or hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7). 3) Reassurance Brings Confidence. God says He will strengthen us and help. The faith of Christians sometimes weakens in the face of anxiety. We must exchange our finite strength for God’s infinite power. His reassurance will restore confidence that we can get through the stressful times. Knowing God has promised to uphold us with His hand, 4) Reassurance Brings Conquest. Don’t ignore God’s promise to uphold you. Don’t choose to run independently of Him. God told us we would have trouble down here on earth. But He also said He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He reassures us of victory and promises us a reward in the life to come (John 14:1-3). With this thought, go ahead and prayerfully tell God how stressed you are and ask Him to help you deal with the overwhelming feelings that surround you just now. Wait for a few moments, feel God’s presence, then thank Him for helping you. Peace will surely come to the person who is sincere and genuine.

Don’t let stress rob you of joy and peace that is available through an inexhaustible resource. Seek God and let a loving church family help you live the abundant life that God intends for you. See you in church on Sunday!

This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and a 1LT Chaplain in the U.S. Army Reserves. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at

Posted by on Dec 9 2012. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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