Charles Stanley - God's Stress Remover
Stress is a killer. I wonder what brings the most stress into your life? Is it your family? Maybe some friend? Maybe it's your job. Maybe it's your health. Maybe it's the direction of our nation. But when you look around there's just stress everywhere. It's conflict. There is distress about all kind of situations. You look around, you ask yourself the question, Whatever happened to peace and joy and all those things we used to talk about?
This is a time and a period of great stress; and people are feeling it and they're bearing it. And they're going to all kinds of means to eliminate it in their life. And yet it doesn't work. There are people, for example, who have gone to all kind of drugs, prescription drugs and street drugs; alcohol of all kinds; sex; gambling, anything to get rid of this feeling that we have that somehow it's bearing us down and grinding us down; and we're looking for an escape. And it's interesting that none of the things that we've come up with has any escapement to it.
People go to the doctors and say, Well, you know, I'm suffering from great stress. There's anxiety and doubt and fears all around me. What do I do? Say, Well, try a few of these. Take two here and two there and two there. Next month, two here, two there and two here. And so you can just go on and on and on. If you don't know how to deal with it, it can kill you. Now it's interesting that the medical profession will tell you that, that it can kill you.
But what is the solution? And I want to give you a solution that I know works. It's a solution that God has provided for every single one of His children. Doesn't come in a bottle or a package; but it is absolutely legitimate and it works. You don't have to buy it. You don't have to go anywhere to get it. It's there for the asking; and for coming to Him in the right way. You say, Well, don't give me any of that religious stuff. It's not religious; it's a relationship. It's an awesome relationship. And all I ask you to do for your sake is to listen to this message when it comes to the kind of stress that we're talking about here.
And so we said we'd title this God's Stress Remover. So what is it? I want you to turn to the fourteenth chapter of Matthew. And, you'll recall that this is one of those occasions in Jesus' life when He was going through some stressful times. So, this is one of those occasions and what's happened here is that Jesus has fed the five thousand and that was an enormous task. And the scripture says in the twenty-second verse of the fourteenth chapter of Matthew, Immediately He made the disciples get into a boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. And after He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.
Now, that's just one occasion. He says, for example in Mark the first chapter and about the thirty-fifth verse that Jesus would get up "early in the morning". And go out in the mountain by Himself and talk to the Father. And, if you'll look at His life, most of the time after some dramatic situation had occurred, He was by Himself, alone up in the mountain somewhere talking to the Father, just being quiet. And the Apostle Paul, when he got saved, what did he do? He said, I didn't go to Jerusalem, talk to the saints and ask them what they believed. He said, I went to Arabia, which was his way of getting away from everything; because remember. He was a Pharisee; and for him to receive Jesus Christ as personal savior it was suicide in the very beginning. So he did the wise thing. He got alone with God.
So you say, Well now, what is this that absolutely gives me a sense of freedom that I don't have to live under stress. It's a, listen, it's a single word but there's more to it than that. The word is solitude. Now there's a difference in solitude and being alone, or lonely. So I want to make it very clear and I want to put this on the screen so you understand what the definition of aloneness is. For example, let's look at it for a moment. Loneliness, which all of us have felt at some time or the other, is a separation anxiety, there's anxiety in feeling alone and separated. It's an anxiety brought on by the feeling of being disconnected to your friends or family or children or somebody, whatever, out of touch. It is a loss of intimacy or belonging.
Listen. If you're separated, out of touch, no belonging, a feeling of drifting alone in a universe of uncaring people; feeling of isolation, inner emptiness, that's what real loneliness is about. So we're not talking about that. But Jesus was alone at times. In fact, like the Apostle Paul and like all of us have been. But what's the difference in that and solitude? So, let's look at solitude for a moment. Solitude means to be alone, separated from others. I choose to be alone. I choose to be separated. I choose to be apart from. I choose to withdraw from.
Loneliness is painful. And all of us have probably experienced the pain of loneliness. Loneliness is painful, solitude is not painful. It's a choice we make. And if I should ask you, Would you like to be without stress in your life? Does this mean that you'll never have any more stress at all? No, but it means this. Not that you'll never have anymore, but that you know how to deal with it when it comes. We live in a very stressful age. Everywhere you turn, discord, conflict, all the rest. There's a way to deal with it. And the way to deal with it is to deal with it God's way; and that's what we're talking about.
So, think about it in this way. Why would God even want us to be alone with Him? We've sinned against Him and why would He even want it? There are two primary reasons for it. And the first reason is relationship. Now I want you to think about something. There is only one thing that God created that He could have a personal relationship with and that is a human being. That makes you very, very special. He doesn't relate to elephants like He relates to us. He doesn't relate to mountains and snow and hail and storms and typhoons and all those things He has control over. He doesn't relate to any of that. He relates to you and me in a very personal way. He said, Let Us make man in Our image.
What kind of image was that? It certainly wasn't a physical image. It was an image of spirit and soul. Let Us make man in Our image. Why did God say that? Because He desired to have fellowship with us. And you are a creation of God. And therefore, because you are a creation of God, you're here and His ultimate, primary purpose was to have fellowship with you. He doesn't need anything. He doesn't need any of us to do anything. He can get it done without us.
So why did He create us? He created us to have fellowship with us. Watch this. He created us in order to reveal His love and His truthfulness and the comfort and all the things that He does for us. That's what it's all about. He doesn't need us. And so His desire is to have a relationship with us in which He can express love and goodness and kindness and mercy and provision and protection and all the rest. So that makes every single one of us special, that God made only human beings with whom He would relate to for all eternity. So that's the primary reason. And that is, He desires a relationship with us.
There's a second purpose for solitude. Not only is a relationship, but the second reason is this, it's preparation. You and I have the privilege of getting up every morning and spending time with the Lord. Now let me explain what I mean by that. When I say not necessarily reading the Bible, it's not a Bible study and it's not a prayer meeting. Your primary purpose is, listen, your primary purpose is to do what? To experience the presence of Almighty God, the sovereign God of the universe, who will convey Himself to you; reveal Himself to you; make Himself known to you in the most awesome fashion, just you. And solitude is part of all that. It gets us ready for the next day.
None of us know what tomorrow holds. And so, how do we want to start tomorrow? How do we want to be sure? How do we want to be able to live peacefully, confidently, boldly, productively, fruitfully tomorrow? By starting off the day with the One who will give us guidance and direction; enable us in every single way. Well, what does He want for us? He wants you, just you alone. No iPhones; no telephones at all; no iPads and no computers and no doorbells and no this and no that and no the other, all the things that jam and crowd us. He just wants you. And so, He has two reasons.
Now the third thing I want you to notice here is this. How do we experience this? It's one thing to say, but how do we experience this? And oftentimes people will think that solitude is synonymous with Bible reading and prayer. I want to say it again and again, that's not it. Reading the Word for a short period of time, yes, indeed, just to get God-oriented in your thinking. And how many times, and I think all of us would have to admit this. How many times have you gotten in a frame you say, Heavenly Father, next thing you know, you're thinking about something else. Amen? Say it. Amen.
Yeah, you're thinking about something else. And so your mind just drifts off and you've left God up in Heaven. You're down here worried about what's going to happen next. So here's what He wants. He wants us to open His Word in order to focus on Him, not my needs at this point, I want to focus on Him. God, I want You to make Yourself known to me. Make Yourself real to me, God. I want to sense Your presence, that's what He wants. He wants us to sense His presence in our life. And He's so willing to reveal Himself to us if we're willing to allow Him to do it.
Now, I learned this the hard way, I guess, but my mind used to drift like yours would drift. And, but earlier in my life I delivered newspapers and so, didn't live in a big house and so I found a place in my church where I could go down in the basement area and I shut three doors before I got to this room, the Sunday School classrooms. And I could go down and just pray all I wanted to and be quiet and pray out loud if I wanted to and pray silently if I wanted to. And the important thing was had no windows in that room because it was a basement.
And I learned a very important thing. If I went in there and shut the door; and closed all the doors between me, I was in there by myself and it was dark. It took me a while to catch on how important that was; but it became a habit in my life. And that is if I want to be alone with God, watch this, I have to eliminate distractions. How do you eliminate distractions? I see no light; I hear no sounds, just God and me. No sounds. If you close your eyes and you don't hear anything; or your eyes can be open, but there's no light; you have no distractions. If you want to learn to fellowship with God, who is holy and righteous and perfect and totally loving, you've got to get rid of the distractions.
So let me ask you this. Do you have a place to go in your house that you can close the door, that there's no light and no sound? You say, Well, I don't know that I think it's all that important. Oh, yes it is! And let me just say this to you. Don't you think God deserves your undistracted, undistracted attention? And when I look at all the benefits of solitude, just you and God. Number one, it'll make your busy days much more fruitful; busy, active days much more fruitful, why? As you begin the day with Him and you're listening to Him and God is guiding you and leading you because you opened your heart and mind to Him. There are going to be more productive.
Secondly, He repairs the damage. That is, let's say you've had one of those days and you come home and you think, I can't handle any more of this. And what happens? Time of solitude drains all that out. And this idea of "I can't" and "He won't" and "They will," no. Just give Him time. It's like sometimes He squeezes it out of us. It's like sometimes He pulls the drain and it just pours out. And what happens is we're free and we're liberated. And that's the benefit of just being alone with Him. Listen. God's not uptight. There's not anything about us He can't fix. And He will fix it if we give Him time.
So what it just refuels us emotionally. Listen to me carefully. He'll meet you anywhere you're willing to meet Him. He's not going to say, Well, I don't think this is nice enough in here. No. God's not going to say that. Here's what happens. A third thing is that solitude equips us to face the tough days. All of us are going to have them. All of us are going to have trials. All of us are going to have heartaches and burdens and things we have to deal with. And solitude, what it does, it equips us to face them confidently and assuredly without getting all nervous and upset and frantic and thinking, God, oh, what's going to happen?
Then I think about this. This is one thing that'll happen when you get with solitude with God. He'll strip you of all the pride. And you know what He'll do? He'll do it in a gentle way, probably; but He will show you and you, in His presence, listen, in His presence, who are we? He'll take our pride away. We'll recognize that everything we have is from Him. And the fact that God Almighty in His perfection and power and holiness, He wants, He desires to be with me? Hm-hm. That'll take your pride away. Likewise, He'll do something to your health, I believe. He'll protect you. Because you see, if you're just listening and being quiet, God is, listen, He is the real physician.
Amen is right. Everybody else is practicing, that's what they say. They're practicing, practicing physicians. He's the real thing. You think about this. If God takes away your stress, your anxiety, your fretting and your fears and your confusion and all the rest, your physical body is going to respond to that. It'll make a difference in your health; make a difference in your relationships to other people. You're going to have a sense of peace and joy and confidence in your heart that no matter what comes your way, when you get alone with Him, He stills your heart; quietens your spirit and makes you and overcomer, no matter what you're facing in life.
And then I would just say, there are many things, but when you practice solitude, here's what happens. There is a greater strength from God; it's in explainable. A greater trust in God; it's in explainable. And a deeper relationship with God, that's just a vital part of all of that. Now, when I look at those eleven benefits of time alone with Him, there isn't anything else that can give me all of that, but time alone with Him. And I would simply ask you this. Do you want God's best? This is the avenue. Do you want life's best? This is the avenue. Do you want peace in the midst of storms, and quietness and joy when turmoil is all around you? This is the answer. Because stress is a killer and solitude is a life-giver.
Now, this won't work if you're not a Christian. You say, Well, I've been wondering about that. Well, I can tell you. Listen carefully. The Heavenly Father is not going to give you any peace and any joy. You're not going to feel comfortable alone with Almighty God when you're living in known rebellion against Him. When you're living in sin, you can get in the darkness, close your ears and close your eyes, not going to work. Remember, He wants you. It's oneness with you. And a rebellious heart short-circuits everything that solitude will give you.
So the first step, if you've never trusted Him as your Savior, is to ask Him to forgiven you of your sins; to cleanse you with the blood of the cross; and that's trusting in Him, what He did at the cross, to forgive you of your sins; surrendering your life to Him and telling Him, Lord, I know that You said in Your Word You created me in Your image. God, I'm available for You to do whatever You want to do with me, to make me into Your likeness. You said You predestined to conform me to Your likeness. I'm available. And determine in your heart that solitude with Him is not "a" but "the" priority in your life. This is the key. Not, listen, not something we do; it's something He does in us while we simply spend time with Him. You want to get rid of your stress? Solitude with our Heavenly Father will do it.
And Father, how grateful we are that You really made it simple. And yet the devil has lied to us in so many ways to think we have to do this and we have to do the other. All You want is us. I pray that You'll speak to every single person who hears this message, that You'll just reach straight to their heart and enable them to see they're fighting against the very thing that their heart desires. And that they would be willing to surrender themselves to You and find out what an awesome life you have for them, by trusting You. And this we ask in Jesus' name, amen.