Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:6, K.J.V.)
“Don’t worry.” That advice is a lot easier given than accepted, isn’t it? The temptation is to respond to the advice-giver by saying, “You’d be worried too if you were dealing with my problem.” I read recently that stress is the basic cause of death for more than half the people who die before age 65. That stat came from no less an authority than The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Years ago, I came down with a strange ailment that I had never had before and haven’t had since. For a period of a few weeks, large raised welts (hives) popped up all over my back at unpredictable times, especially at night They would appear, itch like nothing should ever be allowed to itch, and then subside after several minutes of me scratching hard enough to almost break the skin.
I first guessed that the welts (hives) were being caused by an allergic reaction, and my attempted remedy was to change the shower soap I was using. But that didn’t help. Then I got to thinking that the problem might have something to do with the laundry detergent I was using. But that wasn’t it either.
Finally, I paid a visit to our local medical center. I’ll admit that I was thoroughly stunned when the doctor told me, “It would be nice if your problem was being caused by an allergic reaction, but I think it’s more likely it is being caused by stress.” I was a teenager at the time, not long out of high school, no wife, no kids, and no mortgage. My days were spent working my job in a convenience store, and my nights and weekends were spent playing some type of ball. What did I have to be stressed about?
To this day, I still don’t know why those welts (hives) came or went. All I know is that after a few weeks they stopped making their periodic appearances on my back. Did I change my lifestyle in an attempt to lower my stress level? Not really. Like I said, I didn’t think I was particularly stressed anyway. Still, though, I’ve never forgotten that doctor’s diagnosis, and I thought of it when I read that recent finding from The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Those of us who know the Bible well are very familiar with Philippians 4:6, this post’s text passage. Some translations of the verse read “Don’t worry about anything” rather than “Be careful for nothing.” Others use the word “anxious” as in “Don’t be anxious about anything.” I myself favor that translation because I can be anxious about something without drifting into full-blown worry about it. But God doesn’t even want me to be anxious.
These days I’m a long way from that carefree teenager I used to be. Much to the contrary, I’m plenty stressed. No, I don’t have the outer raised welts (hives) to prove it, but I’ve sure got ’em on the inside. You say, “Russell, you just need to take your stresses to God in prayer.” Oh, I do. Really, I do. But the problem is that I don’t always leave them with Him. You see, when 1 Peter 5:7 tells us that we are supposed to cast all our cares (our anxieties, our worries, our stresses) upon God, that means that He doesn’t want to play catch with us as we toss them back and forth. Instead, He wants to catch them and never throw them back to us. You’ve heard that old saying “Let go and let God” haven’t you? Well, that saying really does apply when it comes to casting our cares upon God. It’s just a shame that we don’t always put it into practice.