"When you are anxious, stressed and disturbed, do not sin, but ponder on your bed and be still."Psalm 4:4
As children we have all learned that when you come to a crosswalk, before you step into a street you stop, look both ways and listen for oncoming traffic.
Today the Psalmist is cluing us into a way to deal with stress--that natural bodily response that occurs during those times in our lives when we are venturing into changes or challenges.
When you are anxious, stressed and disturbed...STOP.
Most of us respond too quickly to stress. We fight or fly, becoming either people who can't hold their tongues and begin to clench their fists, or we run away and avoid the situation completely. Either of these responses might lead us into the temptation of sins of commission or sins of omission. Step back and access the situation. The Psalmist tells us, "Do not sin." Don't lash out, don't get angry, don't become negative and don't run away from something God might be calling you to address.
Instead we are told to LOOK...ponder what is going on. Take time in a restful place (the bed) to reverse the natural carnal effect of stress and consider what is actually happening. Is the stress due to a relational problem? Is the stress generated by a lie? Is the stress occurring because our priorities are out of place? Or is the stress a God given opportunity to grow and serve?
Then, instead of opening our mouths, we are to be still: LISTEN. God might tell us what he told the Psalmist in verse 2 of Psalm 4. "Why are you shaming my honor by going after vanities and believing lies?" Perhaps God has a word to move us in a direction we never considered. Or maybe the silence is just what we need until our busy brains wear themselves down and finally the silence can be the place of calm we need.
Stress is the source of about 82% of all illness. It can destroy cells, increase blood pressure, cause digestive problems, not to mention all the emotional, mental and social symptoms.
If we can wisely discern the stress in our lives and turn it to good, we can enter into the restful, peaceful sleep the Psalmist claims for the faithful.
At a crossroads today?
Remember the kindergarten lesson...Stop, look and listen.
O, and one more thing...hold hands when you step off the curb!