The Secret To Overcoming Stress

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep (Ps. 4:8)

The other night I had one of those horrible nights—Up and down, up and down. I could not sleep. All kinds of things were running through my head.

I was up worrying. Not about anything specific or especially true. I just couldn’t sleep because I was anxious and worried.

Don’t misunderstand me. I wasn’t making up things to worry about. There are things out there for me to be concerned about, and these concerns are legitimate. But, for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to handle them with the same calmness. It was like I was under assault and being invaded from all sides.

I was up at 4:30 am that morning. I thought of King David.

“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep” (Ps. 4:8)

Leslie and I had this verse painted on our oldest son Camden’s nursery wall when he was a baby as a mural. That was a long time ago; 24 years ago to be exact.

This verse struck me that morning and kept ringing in my head.

How was David able to sleep in caves and in the wilderness with a price on his head? How could he sleep knowing that Saul wanted him dead? Keep in mind, Saul wanted him dead but anyone could have killed David that had the opportunity and willingness to try and gain favor with Saul.

Think of the stress that David was under. I don’t know if today we truly appreciate the danger David was in.

It was so bad that he moved his family to Moab to get them out of Saul’s sphere. David could go nowhere. Everyone was a potential threat including those that were with him.

And, he had plenty of reason to be upset at God. Several years before this he was anointed king and promised the throne by God’s prophet, Samuel. Sometimes I think, in a weak moment, I would have been angry at God over this.

It had been years since that scene in David’s home in which all the sons of Jesse were paraded through and Samuel denied all of them. Jesse hadn’t even called David in for the moment.

I imagine that was ancient history to David by this point. He most of wondered if it was ever going to be accomplished.

Then I started reading the next Psalm in my reading plan. It was Psalm 31. You should check it out.

It starts like this:

“In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;

let me never be put to shame;

in your righteousness deliver me”

Shame or to be ashamed in the Psalms means to put confidence in something that lets you down. You will see it a lot in reference to the wicked. David prayed often that the wicked are put to shame. Which means that David’s prayer is that they understand that what they put confidence in has put them to shame.

Then in verse three:

“For you are my rock and my fortress;

And for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;”

During this time, the Israelite army would use caves as launching off points. They were considered more as fortresses because they were easy to defend and easy to hide in. Specifically, the Cave of Adullam in which David hid after running from Gath was on the edge of the Judean Desert. It was a place that the Israelites would launch attacks of the Philistines.

“Into your hand I commit my spirit;

For you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”

David sees himself as redeemed to the Lord. He’s like a slave who has been redeemed. He has a new master. His master is faithful and loves him with a love that cannot be stopped.

As I continued to read this Psalm, what I realized was that the secret to overcoming stress, concern, worry comes down to who is on the throne. And I know, many of those who worry consider God to be on the throne of their life. I’m not saying that He isn’t, generally speaking.

What I am communicating is that in the moment of worry, who is on the throne? Is it you? When I was worrying, was God on the throne?

The reason I ask is because I am realizing that in any moment—in our weakness—worry exists when God is not on the throne.

I don’t see 4:30am very often unless something is wrong, and it was this time. God was not on the throne of my heart and mind. That was why I could not defeat the parade of worry in my head. I was trying to reason my way through but that was not the answer.

The answer is to center yourself on what is true about God. Then be thankful as Philippians 4 commands.

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