The Weight of Stress

April 8th, 2018

David Sorn



Are you feeling stressed out? Jesus offers you an entirely different (and effective!) way to deal with your stress.



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TRANSCRIPT


INTRODUCTION

Morning.  How’s everybody doing today?   Welcome to Renovation Church.

My Name is David Sorn.  I’m the Lead Pastor here.

We’re starting a brand new teaching series today called: Overwhelmed: dealing with stress, fear, and anxiety…

Today…we’re starting with the topic of stress.

It doesn’t matter what study you read, Americans are stressed out!

One study I read said this is the most stressed we’ve been since WWII.

That’s crazy!

We are a stressed out people.

And there’s no shortage of things we can be stressed out about.

Let me give you some of the most common ones:

We’re stressed about money.

And how we’d like some more of it… how we NEED some more of it…like, by Friday

We’re stressed about relationships.

A marriage drifting apart, a friendship conflict, an overbearing mother-in-law, how others might see us if our dating relationship falls apart

We’re stressed about work

And how it feels pointless sometimes…and how, no thanks to technology, your boss can now demand something of you 24/7

We’re stressed about school, our health, our guilt, our kids, our parents, our super messy house..

A lot of us are just plain stressed that we have TOO much to do and TOO many people to make happy!

Ugh!  J

Now, stress is a bit different than fear and anxiety…although they are all very closely related and overlap considerably

In general, FEAR is a response to an immediate and known threat

ANXIETY is a response to the possibility that something might happen

And we’ll get to those two topics during the following two weeks.

But STRESS is the mental or emotional (sometimes even physical) tension that is the result of demanding circumstances

Stress can even be something you FEEL because of things like fear and anxiety.

Now, first off, stress, isn’t always a bad thing.

Let’s say you’re supposed to get something done by 9:00, and you know it’ll take you 30 minutes.

But, when you glance at the time, it’s already 8:40.  You only have 20 minutes to go!

STRESS!!        

Stress can actually be a helpful, temporary feeling in the very short-term.

It can help you work faster.

I can help you prioritize or make decisions because you know you have a deadline you have to hit

THE PROBLEM IS…for most of us…stress becomes more of a lingering feeling (than a short-term feeling)…and it doesn’t seem to ever really go away.

And when we’re stressed, we are tense physically, emotionally, and verbally…

Which makes us worse at just about everything else we do.

For example, I’ve long felt like there is a massive correlation between stress and my ability to parent.

I get it, you’re a perfect parent, but I’m not… J

And so, when I’m stressed about something happening at church or in my life, I know that I’m 10 times more likely to just snap at my kids for no reason.

“Daddy, can we have a snack?”

“YES!  WHY ARE YOU EVEN ASKING ME?”

“What’s gotten into dad?!?”

And right, it has nothing to do with them…

But my stress is having adverse effects, not just on me, but on the people around me.

And unfortunately, this is the story of our lives…all too often.

 

 

COME TO JESUS  - NOT THE WORLD

But it doesn’t have to be the story of your life.

Jesus offers you another way.

I want to spend our time this morning studying just 3 sentences from Jesus.

But 3 sentences…with 3 steps about dealing with stress that could drastically change you handle it

(Page 792)

(Renovation App)

Notice here that Jesus knows that life in this world can be stressful…

He just wants you to change how you deal with it.

(Matthew 11:28-30) – NIV

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Let’s break this passage down.

It starts with very simple, but very important words:  COME TO ME.  

This is STEP ONE

If you want to do this differently, we have got to put our trust in God.

I know some of you in here are doing that for the first time.

Last week, you stood up, and gave your life to Jesus for the first time.

And yet, this week…even though you felt different, you still felt stress.

Part of this journey, is learning…HOW to come to Him with your struggles  

Which is why it’s important to come back…every week. 

This is week 2 of the “3 week challenge”

Keep coming back!

For others of you…you’ve been a Christian for a while…but you’re not, really, in all honesty, truly COMING TO JESUS with your stress.

You’re carrying your own load

And this first step is very important because Jesus’ method for dealing with stress is radically different from how the world says to deal with stress.

Even some of the most well-respected secular publications like The American Psychological Association or WebmD, base their stress treatment plans almost exclusively in the physical realm:

They tell you that if you’re stressed, you need to:

Eat healthier

Exercise

and Sleep more

That’s nice…and certainly will make a difference.

But listen to me:  If your marriage is absolutely falling apart…and one person is even talking divorce…

You’re not going to say, “Honey, I started eating asparagus again…and I slept 7.5 hours last night… “LET’S STAY TOGETHER”

Most pop culture advice for managing stress isn’t any better, as most of the recommendations are ideas such as:

Work on your deep breathing

Watch a sunset

Take a hike in the woods

Blow bubbles

Listen to a cat purring.

Listen to me, this is NOT how you ultimately deal with stress.  

All of those things could be helpful to you, I suppose, in temporarily dealing with your stress…

Perhaps for the moment…perhaps for a day…but they won’t help you in the long-term.

If you’ve just been told that your child is really struggling at school, or your father has cancer, or that you might lose your position at work…

Listening to a cat purring while watching the sunset…I suppose might be a nice for 20 minutes (maybe??)…

But listen, it’s just a distraction.

95% of all the modern-day advice on dealing with stress isn’t actually a solution, they’re just distractions

Yes, your stress went down while you did deep breathing for 60 seconds…

Until you finished your deep breathing, and that stressful thought came right back!

And see the world’s answers of good sleep, deep breathing, and sunsets don’t work…because our stress comes from a deeper place than that. 

There are a couple of really important questions you can ask yourself this morning:

Start with (if you haven’t already): What am I stressed out about?

If you’re not stressed right now…what do you usually get stressed about?

And secondly, and more importantly:

WHERE does my stress come from?    (leave up for 30 seconds)

See, that’s the question most Americans never ask.

And if you don’t ask that you’ll just treat the surface issues.

You’ll say, “Ugh, I’m stressed!  I’m just taking on too many things!”

“I work part-time, I’ve got 3 little kids, I serve at church, I clean the house, I do all the laundry, I volunteer at this, I…I…”

“Why am I stressed?!?  Do you not hear the words coming out of my mouth?  Did you not just hear the list of things I do?!?”

But ask the deeper question:

So you take on too many things…

But WHY do you take on too many things?

If you don’t ask that question, you’ll just follow the world’s advice, you’ll cut one of those things out (which is good!  Cut it out…just not the one where you serve at church, lol)

But guess what, in 6 months, I guarantee you that you’ll just take on too many things again!

Because you haven’t addressed the deeper question!

WHY do you always take on too many things?

Because you want to show everyone how productive you are?

Because of what people might think of you if you said no?

See, now we’re getting closer to where stress actually comes from.

Stress isn’t just our feelings of busyness or being overwhelmed.

Stress is typically driven by a misplaced worldview.

Let me give you some examples:

We work SO hard at school or at work…and we STRESS ourselves out…

But where the stress is really coming from, for example, might be our desire to please people

We keep pushing ourselves to the limit, so we can hear our parents, our boss, finally say, “Good job”

Or, we work SO hard because we fear the opposite, “You did terrible work on this.  You call this a proposal?!”

And the true “weight of our stress” is actually our faulty worldview that says: “What other people say about me is what matters most” 

And that creates stress.

Or, We’re stressed about how the money’s going to work out, how the relationship is going to work out, how our kids are going to turn out…

And not only are we stressed about what people might think if these things don’t work out… (worldview problem #1)

We’re stressed because we believe we are the only person who can fix it (worldview problem #2) 

Our faulty worldviews are creating stress

 

 

THE JESUS YOKE

But Jesus offers you a different way. 

A way of rest…and a whole lot less stress. 

Look at verse 29 again:

(Matthew 11:29) – NIV

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

Jesus starts by telling us to come to Him.

Then he says, “take my yoke upon me.”

(SHOW YOKE-OXEN PHOTO)

A yoke was a device that joined together usually two oxen, so they could work together as a team.

And Jesus is saying to you… Come under my yoke…with me.   

What’s different about his yoke?

(Matthew 11:30) – NIV

30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Here’s one massive difference regarding Jesus’ yoke:

Without Jesus, it’s just you…walking around with your own yoke.  

Now, it’s hard to find an actual yoke for oxen in the suburbs…can’t even find them at Fleet Farm.  J

But this piece of wood isn’t all that different. (PICK UP 2 by 4)

If my life…is just me…walking around with my own yoke…

Carrying the stress of all of my problems.

How am I going to solve this?

How am I ever going to get better?

Can you feel the weight of that?

How are you supposed to carry that?  

By the way, how heavy would you say this is?

If we want to know how difficult this is to carry…

The best question is not, what is its weight on a scale…but how heavy is it to carry over time?

How hard is it for me to carry this weight for 10 minutes?

How about for 10 hours?

How about for 10 days?

The longer I carry this stress on my back…the heavier it becomes on my life.

Your stress is the same way.

Carry it for a moment, not that big of a deal

Carry it for a long part of your day, painful

Carry it day after day…it’ll break you down  

But what if you had someone bigger than you…stronger than you…to be yoked with?

I asked my friend from our church, Jason Ackerman, to come on stage.

Jason is 6’5?   Much stronger than me.

Watch what happens when he gets under this board with me and starts carrying the weight

The weight is still there…but now we’re in the yoke together, and he’s much bigger than me, so it’s not so difficult.

Thank you Jason.

This is what Jesus is telling you today…RIGHT NOW…come to me

Bring me your pain…your problems…your stress.

He literally says in the WORD: “Take my yoke upon you”

That’s step two:

Step 1: Come to Him

Step two:  Get under His yoke.

He says, get up under there with me!”

It’s easy…it’s light!

Because He’s SO much bigger than you.

SO much stronger than you.

Will you let Him carry the weight of your stress?

And He won’t just carry it…He’ll reframe the whole thing for you.

Look one more time at verse 29…there’s a lot here!

(Matthew 11:29) – NIV

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 

HE says, 1) Come to Me, 2) Get under my yoke and 3) Learn from me

Let me tell you what the real antidote to stress is…and it’s not sunsets and purring cats:

Don’t miss this:  The real antidote to stress is learning the ways of Jesus.

So watch the difference when you learn the ways of Jesus (AND LIVE THEM OUT).

It’s no longer…if I run out of money, I’m nothing.

It’s…if I run out of money, I’m still walking next to the King of the Universe

It’s…if I run out of money, no worries, Jesus assures me I’ll be quite wealthy in heaven…which is much longer anyway.

It’s…if I run out of money…you know what…Jesus tells me to just worry about today…He’ll provide…and I’ll be okay.

Do you see this?

If you’re walking next to Jesus and living out HIS ways…THAT is the antidote to stress!

It’s no longer, if I fail this test, or screw this up at work, then I’m a failure.

It’s…if I fail this test or screw this up at work…then, well, I’m still walking next to God’s Son…and He happens to think I’m quite special…so it doesn’t really matter what my boss thinks…or my parent’s think…or what anyone thinks. It matters what HE thinks.

Learn his ways…then walk them out.

It’s no longer, if I can’t fix my marriage, if I can’t fix my child..

It’s…Lord…I’m walking with you…and boy, you look stronger than me…WHY AM I TRYING TO FIX THIS?!?

“Ok, new deal: You carry this, I’ll just walk”  J

Learn his ways…then walk them out.

It’ll begin to remove the WEIGHT OF STRESS in your life.

Most Americans are stressed because they just don’t have the right worldview.

They’re approaching life like they’re God.

Like they need to be perfect.

Like they need to fix everything.

And I’m sorry, but those things just aren’t true…and will only lead you to feeling absolutely overwhelmed.

You will see an amazing difference in the amount of stress that you’re carrying…when you come to Jesus, get under his yoke, and live out his ways…HIS truth.   

Like the fact that you don’t need to be perfect to be loved

Like the fact that you’re not in control.

In every circumstance you face, you can approach it like you’re God…like you carry the yoke alone

Or like He is God…and you’re just walking with Him. 

What will you choose today?  Which one?

And it’s not just “learning his ways”

It’s living them out.

Plenty of you in this room aren’t learning these truths for the first time today…

You know all about them…but you don’t practice them.

In actuality, you live your life like you’re the only one under the weight of stress.

Like you’re not yoked next to anyone.

He’s with you!

Start living like it!

I want you to think about 1 or 2 actual areas in your life where you are stressed right now..

What’s truly underneath that stress? 

Is it heavy because you’re trying to do this alone?  

It is because you’re just trying to impress, or be perfect, or control how it works out?

Take that one area…and this week…I want you to surrender being God…and let Him be God. 

When the stress comes….

I want you to literally PICTURE Jesus walking next to you…with the yoke on his back with.

Picture Him smiling at you, saying, “I got this.”

“You just keep walking…keep trusting…stay next to me.

I got this.”

Because remember, Jesus isn’t saying, “If you come to me, I’ll give you endless vacations, naps, and a trial-free life.”

He’s saying, you’re still going to have all sorts of challenges and trials…but you’re walking with ME now!

Elsewhere, he says it this way:

(John 16:33) – NIV

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Remember the wise man who built his house on the rock, didn’t avoid the storm…

It’s just that the weight of the storm didn’t crush his life anymore.

If you’re a believer…remember…He’s forgiven you, wiped the slate clean, saved you from hell, and He’s walking with you right now.

So you tell whatever’s been bringing you down that there’s a new sheriff in town.

And it’s not you.

This is not some silly worldly advice that tells you to look in the mirror and say, “I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am awesome…hear me roar.”

No, you’re not that special.

But He is!

And He’s walking with YOU!

And you can trust Him that He can carry your stress.

Because long ago, he carried another piece of wood on his back.

Two of them nailed together.

And he carried all of your sin and took the punishment for you.

Forgiving you of your sin by your faith.

And if He can carry the weight of the world’s sins…

He can carry the weight of your stress.

Let me pray.


Copyright: David Sorn

Renovation Church in Blaine, MN



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