What would you consider to be the opposite of stressful? Wouldn’t it restful or peaceful? Where does this come from? Is it something you can talk yourself into? What do the scriptures say?
25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?…31. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Who were the gentiles? The same exhortation is found in
28. And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29. Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Now let’s consider which of the stress factors (fears) we listed are covered in these two passages: the fear of lack of food and death are covered explicitly. In addition, God’s knowing the hair count on our heads teaches a much bigger lesson. It is that none of the other things about which we stress can afflict us without His knowledge and care.
What about all the believers of past ages and this age as well? Many of them were martyred for their faith. God didn’t deliver them. Look at Heb. 11:35b:
“others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection”. What is a “better resurrection”? Look at II Cor. 5:1-10
1. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7. (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
This passage is intimately tying together the concepts of resurrection into a new body and the judgment seat of Christ. This judgment is for believers only. There is a separate one for unbelievers. To have a better resurrection is to be resurrected to greater rewards. We must have the frame of mind of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.
You might say that this is all well and good, but it is still a hard thing to let go of the fear of death or severe bodily harm. So let’s see what God’s Word says will foster the right frame of mind. There are four main things:
1. Let us start with Isaiah 26:3-4
“3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. 4. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength.” (The phrase “stayed on thee” means to be thinking continually of God.) We see here that the prescription for peace is TRUSTING Him. After stating this truth Isaiah exhorts his readers to trust the LORD.
How do you learn to trust Him more? Through reading of His faithfulness in His Word and seeing answered prayer in your own life and the lives of others for whom you pray - in other words, by going deeper into the Christian life.
2. This fits right in with Psalm 119:165
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” To offend in the old English of the KJV does not mean the same as today. It literally means that those who love the law of God will not STUMBLE at anything – and that brings “great peace” which, in the original Hebrew, literally says “peace, peace have they which love they law.” What is God’s law? In the narrowest sense it is the five books of Moses. In a broader sense it is the entire Word of God - both Old and New Testaments.
To not stumble means that we will know God’s standards and will seldom or never be in doubts about which is the righteous path.
Here is another grand scripture that teaches that the way to peace and rest is in learning about God – Matt. 11:29-30.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light.”
So in learning of Jesus we will find rest for our souls. Thus we see that the second thing that produces peace is LOVING GOD’S WORD which, as we said, will lead us to righteous living. And living righteously is important because righteousness is the path to peace as we see in Isa. 32:17
3. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” How does that sound for a stressed person – quietness and assurance (trust!) forever?
In the extended passage we read from the Sermon on the Mount there is further verification on this same subject (Matt. 6:33):
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
WHAT things will be added to you if you seek God’s righteousness? – all the things you are stressed about not having. So the third requirement for peace is RIGHTEOUS LIVING.
For some of us the fourth requirement might be the hardest one – especially when we see the evil all around us. It is found in Psalm 37:7
4. “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” (The word translated “rest” means to put your full weight upon.)
We want to see evil defeated and we will – though not necessarily in this life. Read PSALM 73. In the mean time, we will have peace by RESTING IN THE LORD.