Steps to take when life gets tense
Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Many of us are familiar with the frequently quoted comment, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” That was Henry David Thoreau’s judgment of life in the early part of the 19th Century. If Thoreau were living today, he would undoubtedly revise his observation. “Most men, women, and oftentimes children, lead lives of quiet desperation.”
For sure, we are a nation under stress.
We are a tension-ridden people who take aspirin for our headaches, tranquilizers for our nerves and sleeping pills to make us sleep. And so much of this “medicine” is being taken to alleviate tension or stress.
The late Quaker philosopher, Elton Trueblood, described our time in one of his books when he said: “Whatever the course of history may be in the next years, it will not be a course of tranquility. Therefore, our task is not to pine for calmer days but to live wisely and well in the midst of continuous strain (tensions).”
Isaiah the prophet reminds us of how we can live wisely and well in the midst of continuous strain.
He said, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength (30:15).
And, of course, Isaiah is pointing out the centrality of spiritual awareness.
He’s urging faith in God and God’s reliability. He’s stating that our salvation and strength (ability to live wisely and well in the midst of continuing strain) is found in God.
So, having said that, how do we manage tension?
The following suggestions may help.
1. Be prepared! Stress is always magnified when we are not prepared.
2. Focus on the “musts” of life! It means separating the supremely important from the relatively important.
3. Live one day at a time! Anybody can handle the battles of one day. It’s when we confront the combined battles of yesterday and tomorrow together that we get down.
4. Don’t do everything yourself! Jesus enlisted and trained Twelve disciples to help him share the load.
5. Remember the importance of humor! Humor is not excess baggage in any contented life.
6. Keep a quiet time! Rarely do people who know that they are “God’s work in progress” succumb to tension. They are too busy “practicing the presence of God” and loving others to be stressed out.
Isaiah said it well, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”