Dr. James C. Denison
President, Center for Informed Faith, Dallas, TX
June 3, 2011

Would you like to be happier?
According to this morning’s Time website, a recent study reports that 25% of our happiness is related to our ability to manage stress. Unfortunately, most people are really bad at doing so. How do we get better? By planning: “fighting stress before it even starts, planning things rather than letting them happen.” In this way, we can manage stress by preventing it from occurring, we’re told. Let’s run this thesis by some of the events dominating this morning’s news.

As flooding continues along the Mississippi, floods are now projected on the Missouri River as well, the result of torrential rainfall and record snowfall in Montana and the Dakotas. Meanwhile, western Massachusetts is digging out from killer storms which struck earlier this week. On Wednesday, as many as seven tornadoes touched down in Springfield, killing four people.

And an E. coli bacteria outbreak has infected more than 1,500 people in Germany, killing 17. Making matters worse, the World Health Organization has now announced that the pathogen responsible was a strain of E. coli which scientists have never seen before. The mutant is highly infectious, toxic, and resistant to traditional antibiotic treatments.

How many of these extremely stressful events could you have planned for last week? Think about the issues which are causing you the most stress this morning—how many of them could you have predicted?

“Planning things rather than letting them happen” is undoubtedly good advice so far as it goes. But an even better remedy for stress is having a plan when it shows up uninvited at your door. In this regard, we might consider the experience of Jesus’ best friend. When John found himself unexpectedly exiled on Patmos, the Alcatraz of the ancient world, he responded to the stress of his situation in a very powerful way: “On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit” (Revelation 1:10). The result was a visit from his Lord and King, who revealed his heavenly glory to his imprisoned apostle and gave him the final book of Scripture.

If you’re a Christian, the Spirit lives “in” you as his temple (1 Corinthians 3:16). But you must choose whether or not to live “in” him. Have you submitted this Friday to your Lord, inviting his Spirit to take control of your day? If you have, you can step into this uncharted morning with confidence that the omnipotent King of the universe will be your “refuge and fortress, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

A fortress isn’t much help at a distance. How close to your Father are you today?


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