James Merritt - Stress for Success
Well, I wanna just say a good morning to all of you here at our room, and those of you watching live, watching by TV, thanks for joining. Just a little quick aside, just before I walked in here, you talking about making my day. I get a text from my five-year-old grandson who knows more about technology than I do. My five-year-old grandson, Connor, texted me and said, to me and Theresa, he said, hey guys, if you ever need anything, call me. So it just kinda made my day. So after the Civil War, two of the most important men, the most popular men in the Northern United States was Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman, they were the leading generals of the Union Army.
Well, Grant went on to become the president of the United States of America. And William Sherman, by all accounts, had a clear path to the presidency if he wanted to be president, he most likely would have been elected. When he was asked in 1884, would you run for the presidency? He made this famous statement. He said, I will not accept if I'm nominated and I will not serve if I'm elected. It became known as the Sherman Rule, I will not serve if I'm elected, I won't accept if I'm nominated. And I am convinced that if General Sherman were alive today, he would not only make the same statement. He would make it maybe even more emphatically than he made it a couple of hundred years ago, because the presidency of the United States is considered perhaps the most stressful job on earth.
I'm reading a book right now, I can't put it down, I'd encourage you, If you'd like to read anything, I'm a presidential buff, and I'm reading a book by an author who titled it, "The Hardest Job in the World". And it's about the presidency of the United States. And I want you just to think about the moment you're elected president, what job you just took on. Now listen to this, you're a chief of state. That's really the job you have, you're always the chief of state, you're the chief of the nation. You're the chief executive, you're the head of the executive branch, so you're responsible for the job of all executives in your constituency. You're the chief administrator. You're the head of the most powerful government in the world. You're the chief diplomat. He's responsible for foreign issues and domestic issues.
Chief legislator, he's the head of laws, which can only pass with his signature. He is the chief of party. He is the figurehead of his political party. You talk about stressful. Let's be honest, there's no one single man or one single woman anywhere, anytime, any place that could even possibly think about representing 327 million Americans, citizens, with all the different opinions and all the different passions and all the different interests that we have. Or let's put that aside, you're the president United States. Do you know how any employees you have underneath you? You have 2 million employees. How can anyone man manage any company with that many employees? And oh, by the way, that doesn't include being the commander in chief of the largest military in the world. No wonder, it shouldn't surprise you, that on average, the president of United States lives 2.7 years less than the average citizen in America. And it shouldn't surprise you that when a president retires, from that moment on, he has a 23% higher risk of premature death than the average person.
So here is the most powerful person on this planet, who is waited on hands and foot, who can get on a state-of-the-art airplane, he could get in a state-of-the-art automobile, he can have anything he wants at practically any time, and yet stress is a part of his life, every single second of every single day. And he's not alone, because it doesn't matter what age, sex, ethnicity, or religion we have, nobody is immune to the stress virus, it affects all of us. As a matter of fact, according to American Institute of Stress, about 33% of people report feeling extreme stress. If that's true, one out of three of you right now are under extreme stress. 77% of people experience stress, and it affects their physical health. 73% of people have stress that impacts their mental health and 48% of people have trouble sleeping because of stress.
I wish I could just stop because some of you right now are probably saying I wasn't too stressed when I walked in here. But the news daily doesn't get a whole lot better. Because about half of all Americans' levels of stress are getting worse. So now we know this, 75% of Americans experienced moderate to high stress levels in the past month. I didn't know this, stress is the number one health concern of high school students. 80% of people, 80% of people feel stress at work. 83% of Americans say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress. And when you think it, it really shouldn't surprise us.
Look where we are, we are in a perfect storm of stress. COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, wondering if the bottom going to fall out? Traumatic events related to racism and racial tensions. And we're still in the aftermath of the most divisive political election, probably, in 50 years. Stress has taken an incredible toll on all of us. And by the way, if I can just take a moment, people in my profession are not immune to the same virus of stress that you experience as well. Psychological studies have shown that pastoring and ministry is one of the most stressful occupations in America. So let me kind of just join your ranks. 75% of pastors report being extremely stressed, 90% feel fatigued and worn out every single week. 78%, this is amazing to me, at some time were forced to resign from their church. 80% will not be in ministry 10 years later. Seminary trained pastors only last five years in the ministry. 91% have experienced some form of burnout in ministry.
There was a time in my ministry, about been about 35 years ago, I was a young guy. I got so stressed out in the church I was pastoring, I began to lose my hair, I developed a blood pressure problem, I was sweating through my suits, I was sleeping about three hours at night, and that went on for about five months. So I understand stress. You may as well say stress taxes us more than the IRS. 75 to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress related illness. Think about that, stress related, 75 to 90%. Stress costs the American industry more than $300 billion a year. The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50% often due to chronic untreated stress reaction. Stressed out, pressure unrelenting, unmediated. Chronic stress is a major contributor to heart problems, high blood pressure, headaches, mental conditions, anxiety.
'Cause after all, every day right here in Atlanta, we know what we wake up into, we wake up every day and go to work in a world of speed, stuff, and stress, and it's over and over and over. Monday, everybody hates Monday, everybody's glad for Friday, but Monday comes do quickly, speed, stuff and stress. And so what do we do all day? We juggle time, we multitask. We know deep down, we're just all rats in a big rat race. And we have gone from the survival of the fittest to the survival of the fastest. 'Cause it seems like nothing ever slows down. That's why we're in a series that we're calling no hard feelings. Because I want to deal with an extremely important part of our lives, that affects us every single day. It affects you, it affects me. It's our feelings, it's our emotions.
I told you last week, there are people didn't come to church this morning, it wasn't because of the weather, it wasn't because they were sick, it wasn't because there was an issue, they just didn't feel like coming. We are affected by feelings and emotions, all of our lives, but today we're going to deal with the emotion of stress. Now, let me go ahead and define stress. Let me tell you what I mean by the word, stress. Stress is the gap between what we face and what we think we can face. If what you're facing is greater than what you think you can face, you're going to be stressed. It is the difference in what we believe we must do versus what we believe we can do. And that's called the stress factor. You might say stress is the canyon between what we ought to do and what we think we can't do.
So a medical doctor put it real simple, he said a person's stress level is always determined by what a person believes. If you're facing something that you know you ought to do, you've got to do, you shouldn't do, you must do, but you're convinced in your mind, you can not do it, you're going to be stressed completely out. Well, here's the good news, In a book called Isaiah, and I want to encourage you to start finding this book, it's in the Old Testament, just start at Genesis and keep turning toward the maps, you'll hit it. In a book called Isaiah, there was this ancient advice that was given by this ancient prophet, about 3000 years ago, he was facing, not just he, but the whole nation, was facing some unbelievable stress. And in this chapter, he gives this divine prescription for stress that comes from the heart of God, right out of the heart of God.
This is the master divine creator psychologist who says I can help you with your stress. So if you're one of those people listening to me right now, and for you life has become unbearable, you feel like the storm of your life is just too strong, you feel like your rope of hope has been cut in half, and you just feel like throwing in the towel. Let me share with you today, how to have stress for success. Now I'm not a psychologist, I'm not a psychiatrist, I'm not a licensed trained counselor, I don't claim to be any of those things. However, this book is full of some of the best counsel and some of the best advice you'll ever get, because it comes from the heart of God himself. So if you're one of those people, you say, man, I am so stressed out.
Isaiah says, well, just try doing three easy, simple things. Number one, look up at the Unequaled God, look up at the Unequaled God. Now this may sound very simplistic. But the first thing that Isiah's going to tell you to do is this, are you really stressed out? Man, I'm so stressed out. He says, okay, here's what I want you to do. Wait until it gets dark, go outside and just look up, it's really incredible. I mean, that's exactly what Isaiah, Isaiah is talking to the nation of Israel, and what he's basically saying is look, get out of your fetal position, quit biting your fingernails, quit walking the floor, go outside and look into the sky. And he says, when you do, here's what you will find.
Listen to this, "To whom will you compare me"? This is God talking, "To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? Says the Holy One". This God, Isaiah's God, the Bible's God, the God that we worship. He says, you can put every other so-called God together, and they wouldn't equal my little toenail. There is nobody like me. And the proof's not in the pudding, the proof's in the stars. So here's what he says, "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens". Who created all these? "He who brings out the starry hosts one by one, calls forth each one of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing".
Now when Isaiah wrote those words, and when ancient people read those words, they didn't really have a clue, they didn't have any idea, what an unbelievable, incredible statement that is. Let me give you an illustration. When I was president of the Southern Baptist Convention, I was traveling the world, visiting our missionaries. And on one of my trips, I was in Africa, I was in the country of Zambia. Now I'd taken a boat up the Zambezi River, into the jungle. We got to the jungle, we made camp, we put up our tent. So the first night I'm sleeping in this tent and I couldn't sleep. So I got up and I walked outside my tent, and what I saw was breathtaking. In all of my life, I had never seen so many stars. I just had never seen them. I mean, I thought to myself, I thought these stars had become rabbits, and they just started multiplying while I was asleep.
Well, I asked the missionary the next morning. I said, I got to ask you a question, I've never seen so many stars. He started laughing, he said, you know why? I said why? He said, because there's no electric lights, there's no pollution, this is the cleanest air in the world. And for the first time you're seeing just a clear, clean sky. Now this is what blew my mind. Astronomers now tell us that if you look at the stars at night, even if you go to the cleanest place in the world, the most stars you can see are about 9,000. That's about all you can see with the naked eye. There's about 9,000 stars. But, you ready? That is only about one to the one 100th quintillionth of stars that are actually out there.
You say, wait a minute, how much is one quintillion? One quintillion is one followed by 20 zeros, get that down, one followed by 20 zeros. They estimate the number of stars in the universe, in the whole universe, is about three septillion, that's one with 24 zeros after that. And now they're telling us that number is constantly expanding every single day. Those three septillion stars, every single second, those stars are putting out as much energy, you ready for this? As a trillion atomic bombs, every single second. We're now seeing infrared images of galaxies we didn't even know existed that are estimated to be about 12 million light years away.
Now get all of that in your mind and here's what Isaiah says, you ready? God calls every one of them by name. Every one of them have a separate name. Larry, Moe, Curly Joe, they all have these separate names. And to put it another way, Astronomers now estimate there are about 100 billion to 400 billion stars in our galaxy, just our galaxy, and the Hubble Space Telescope now tells us there may be 2 trillion other galaxies in the universe, and who knows how many stars. And yet God says, listen to this, not only do I call them all by name, he says, not one of them is missing by my power and my great strength. He says of all those septillions of stars, There's not one renegade star doing what it wants to do. There's not one renegade star saying, I want to go this way, no, I want to go that way. He says, oh no, I've not only named them, they go where I tell them to go. They sign where I tell them to sign. They do what I tell them to do.
Now you say, okay, what's the point? Here's what Isaiah is saying. If God has such a firm grasp on this incredible universe, don't you think he can handle what you're going through? When this God says, you know what? I've got this, don't you believe him? If this God could keep their stars in their orbits and if this God can keep the planets in their places, if this God can make an entire universe run like a Swiss watch, don't you think you don't have to sweat anything? Just look up to this Unequaled God. Now it gets more simple, but it gets better. Isaiah says, hey, you stressed out? Boy, I'm so stressed. He says, well, first of all, open your eyes and look up to this unequaled God. But then he says, open your ears and listen to this Unlimited God, this Unlimited God.
Now the prophet Isaiah would have been a fantastic counselor. I love practical advice. I've told you many times we complicate the simple, Jesus simplifies the complicated. He says, okay, you stressed out? Number one, open your eyes, look up. And then he says, open your ears and listen, listen to what he says. He says, "Do you not know? Have you not heard"? Open your ears, "Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, he increases the power of the weak".
Now that raises a question. He says, have you not heard? Well, what is it they should have heard? He said, have you not known? Well, what is it they should've known? Well, they should've known what they'd been hearing repeatedly for hundreds of years, from the word of God, they should have heard and known what prophet after prophet, after prophet and preacher, after preacher, after preacher and priest, after priest, after priest, had been telling them for hundreds and hundreds of years. They should've heard what other prophets have written about God, which is what? He's not just your ordinary dime a dozen, run of the mill, custom built God. He said he is the ever lasting God. That means he's not limited by the time. He's the creator of the ends of the earth. He's not restricted by space. He is both the creator and the controller of everything everywhere. Because just before this reminder, you hear this complaint for the people of Israel, they were really complaining about God.
Here's what they said. "Why do you complain"? God's asking them, "Why do you complain, Jacob"? They had been complaining against God. "Why do you say, Israel, 'My way is hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God?'" You know, here's what was happening. The nation's under tremendous stress, we don't have time to go into why, but they're about to be taken over by a pagan people. They're about to be removed from their own country. They're about to see everything they love destroyed. I mean, they are under a pressure cooker, 24/7, and they're all asking the question that many of us have asked God from time to time, do you even know what's happening to me right now? Do you even care about what's happening to me right now? I mean, are you listening? I go to bed crying, I'll wake up crying. I go to bed praying, I'll wake up praying. It seems like the heavens have turned to brass. Your ears have turned to iron. Do you even know what's going on in? And do you even care?
And here was the problem they had, here's the problem we have. See, we fall into the trap of thinking we can put God on our clock. We think that God has to work according to our timetables. So what we try to do to God, is we put God in a box, and we think you got to do what I want you to do, you've got to do when I want you to do it, and you've you got to do it the way I want it done. And we really want that to happen when we don't understand what's going on or how to handle it. But then Isaiah reminds us. He said, look, God's understanding is unlimited. The last part of verse 28 that I just read about his understanding no one can fathom, when you read that literally in the Hebrew language, here's what it literally says. His understanding has no limits.
That's what it tells me, if I didn't read anything else, you know I know God must be God? He can understand women. His understanding has no limits. He understands all of it. See, there is one know at all in the universe and his name is God. So let me give you some good news, you ready? We may not always know what we're doing, but God always knows what he's doing. We may not know what we're doing, but God always knows what he's doing. You say, you know, here's my problem, doc, I just don't understand why things are happening to me right now the way they're happening. I just don't understand the reason for it. You may not know the reason why, it doesn't mean there's not a reason why. 'Cause there is. You may not know what, you may not see it, you may not feel it, but there is.
See, for example, we think this sometimes, I think this, you know, we think, wait a minute, the only reason I've got stress in my life right now is because I got problem causing stress. I've got stress causing problems. And then you think to yourself, but, wait a minute, if God loves me so much, why does he allow me to have these stressful problems? Well, let me give you one example. Let me ask you, this is a trick question. If you had the power to get rid of earthquakes, there would never be another earthquake on planet earth. Would you do that? Now, you'd probably say, sure. Well, before you answer too quickly, you might want to know something about earthquakes. Did you know that even earthquakes are important for human life? If there were no earthquakes, let's say no more earthquakes, they all stop. The nutrients that are essential for life on the continent would evaporate and accumulate into the oceans.
If earthquakes became too numerous, we couldn't live in cities. Scientists have discovered, this is amazing, scientists have now discovered that the number of earthquakes and the intensity of earthquakes is just large enough, and they happen just often enough to recycle life and essential nutrients back to the continents. But they're just small enough that we can continue to live in big cities. And see, the point, I never have know this until I did study for this message. The point is God can use even earthquakes for our good. God can use even earthquakes for his glory. Maybe that's why the former pastor at Notre Dame said this, he said, "If God would concede me his omnipotence for 24 hours, you would see how many changes I would make in the world, but if you gave me his wisdom too, I would leave things just as they are".
See, your stress, it's worn you out, you're done, you're exhausted, you're ready to pack it in and you're ready to hang it up. I want you to remember something, this God that we love and this God that we serve and this God that we know is a God of unlimited strength and unlimited understanding. He doesn't grow tired, he doesn't get weary, he never gives out, he never takes a break, he never needs a vacation, he's never confused, he's never perplexed. So I want you to stop right now, I want you to stop right now. Listen, open your ears and listen to this God who has spoken to us, listen to this God who's made a promise and his promise never fails. He says, in your weakest times, I'll give you strength. In your worst times, I'll give you faith. In your most terrible times, I will give you my presence. I will increase the power of the weak, if you just have ears to hear.
So if you're stressed out, my first piece of advice tonight, look up to an Unfailing God. And then look up to the Unlimited God. And then he says, listen, listen to that God, listen to the promise that he has made. Now I hope so far, you're saying, well, I thought you'd given me more than that. Can you help me out? Can you give me one more piece of advice? Yeah, but you ain't going to like it. Because I don't, but it works. You ready for this? The third thing he says is this, you linger with the Unfailing God, you linger with the Unfailing God, you look up to the Unequaled God, you listen to the Unlimited God, but linger with the Unfailing God.
Now listen to what he says. If you're like me, and this is why this is hard for me to preach, okay? If you're like me, you're a fixer by nature. I'm a fixer by nature. You know, when people come me and they have problems, I've told you this before, I'm not a good listener, I'm just being honest, I'm not a good listener, I have to work at it, you know why? 'Cause I just want to fix the problem. You know, when people come, and I've learned this, people, you know, most of the time people already know what they need to do. They just want me to listen to their problem.
My nature is you got 60 seconds, give me your problem, I'll give you 60 and I'll give you the solution. That's just the way I think, I'm a fixer by nature. Because when you're under tremendous stress, you know what you want, you just want one thing, just fix the problem. I just want it to go away. So when I turned to God in my stressful times, I wanna admit something to you, that's true about you. When I go to God, I say, God, would you please fix this? And he'll always say, I will fix it. And then I'll always say, if you don't mind, do it now. That would be real cool. So the next few words may not make you very happy at first. I've just going to warn you. Listen to what he says, But they, I don't even want to read that word, but they who, you gonna say it with me? Wait, they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.
Now don't look at me so holy and pious like you don't think what I'm thinking. Because there's been times in your life that if those words were read to you, here's what you'd say. Wait, that's all you got? Wait, what do you mean, wait? Hello. The wolves are at the door, we're about to be shut down, I'm about to lose my job, the end is near, the lights are about to be cut off, and you want me to wait? Well, hold on. Waiting does not mean you do nothing, curl up in a fetal position, walk the floor, bite your fingernails to the bone, waiting on something to happen.
Listen to me carefully, waiting on the Lord means waiting with the Lord. Hear that now. Waiting on the Lord means waiting with the Lord. Here's what it means. You put your stress aside for the moment and you take that time that you want to spend worrying and stop it. And you get alone with God, you sit at his feet, you listen to his word, you allow him to build your faith, and your trust. And you listen to the great God he is. Because here's what God's doing.
When you just take time to just cool it, let the world go for a minute and you say, I've just got to wait. Here's what you're saying to God when you wait, I am totally dependent on you. I am helpless and hopeless without you. But I absolutely have have an unshakeable confidence you are the ever lasting God, you never get tired, you never get weary, you know exactly what's going on, your timing is always perfect, you're going to work this out for my good, your perfect is going to be filled in my life, and you're going to do it in such a wonderful way that I get the good and you get the glory. Can I get a witness? That's what you're doing when you wait on the Lord. You are just simply saying, look, what else can I do? I can't handle it, only you can. So you see waiting on the Lord means you continue to serve the Lord, live for the Lord, and obey the Lord.
So this is important, because people read this all the time, they don't understand what Isaiah was saying, he said, wait on the Lord. Now listen carefully, waiting on the Lord doesn't mean you just kind of go over and sit down and you just kind of chew your fingernails and sweat bullets till he does something. That is not what waiting means. Waiting means not just waiting on him to do what we need him to do for us. But in the meantime we keep doing for him, what we need to do for him. Let me give you an illustration. You go into a store, someone comes up to you and they'll ask you this question, has someone waited on you? They don't mean by that, has somebody come up and just stood there and just watched you? That's not what they mean. What do they mean? What they're saying is have somebody served you? Has someone tried to help? Has someone met your needs?
And what Isaiah is saying is look, when you're stressed out, you don't know what to do, listen, I don't know what to do, okay. Do what you know to do, stay in the presence of God, listen to his word, continue serving God. And here's what happens. You say, I don't feel like serving God, do it anyway. I don't feel like reading the word, do it anyway. I don't feel like focusing on somebody else's problems and helping somebody else out, do it anyway. Here's what will happen. But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. Do you know what that word renew means? Oh, it's a great word. Do you know what renew means? That word renew literally means, to exchange.
So here's what God says, I'll make a deal with you. If you'll just trust me enough to get off your high horse thinking, you can handle your problem because you already know you can't anyway, if you just say, Lord, I'm just going to wait on you. Here's what God says, okay? Then I'll will exchange my strength for your weakness. I'll will exchange my peace for your stress. I will exchange my presence for your worry. See the Christian life is not just a changed life, it is an exchanged life. The greatest strength coach in the world is this God who lives to strengthen you. And by the way, he can handle any storm, but it gets better. Isiah says, hey, listen, if you would just wait on the Lord, he will renew your strength. But then he says something that's kind of strange. He says, and they will soar on wings like eagles.
I want to ask you a question. Isaiah is talking about stress, he's dealing with stress. Why do you go to the zoo and talk about eagles? Well, what's eagles got to do with anything? Eagles are amazing birds. Every other bird in the world, every other bird in the world, when it senses a storm is coming, somebody just tell me, what do you think that bird does? Yeah, he flies away from the storm. Eagles don't fly away from the storms. What do you think eagles do? They fly into the storm. You say, is that because eagles are stupid? Nope, it's not that, here's why. Eagles have massive wings that have over 7,000 feathers. They're like the wings of an airplane. And they could use those thermal drafts caused by that storm to literally lift off and they can fly, you ready for this? Eagles can get up to an altitude of 10,000 feet. And God, just like an airplane, God has created them uniquely with an ability they can lock those wings in a fixed position the midst of the most fierce storm.
So not only can an eagle fly higher in a storm, he can fly faster. Listen, an eagle can reach a speed on average of 50 miles an hour. And if a storm is strong enough, he could file 100 miles an hour. The reason why eagles don't fear storms, they love storms. they're not afraid of storms, they fly into storms, is because they soar above the storm. And because of that, they fly higher, they see farther, they go faster. Now what's the message? Why does he bring up an eagle? If you don't hear anything else, this will be worth coming to church for today. You under stress, how many of us are under stress? Just be honest, stressed out people. Some of you so stressed out you're afraid to admit you're stressed out. Listen to this next statement.
Do you know what God wants to do with you when you're stressed out? He wants to take you where he is. And where is he? He's above the storm. He wants us to quit looking at the storms around us, that's earth's point of view. He wants us look at the storm below us, that's his point of view. And what he's saying is this, I'm over every storm. I'm in control of that thunder that you hear, I'm in control of that lightening that you see. And as long as you fly with me, you don't have to fear any storm. And then he says this and we'll finish up. He says, they'll run and not grow weary, they'll walk and not be faint. I mean, look, it's one thing to fly above the storm, but you still have to go through the storm.
And so what God is saying is simply this, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and while you're going through the storm, while you're going through the storm, don't look down at the ground, look up at the sky. And if you'll wait on me and you'll serve me, I'll exchange my peace for your strength, my strength for your weakness, you will fly higher than the storm, run faster in the storm, and you'll walk longer through the storm and you will get through that storm Because you've got my word.
So, last thing we're done, probably I think we pretty much agree since World War II, probably no president has ever gone through any more stress or a greater challenge in the last 50 years than George W. Bush did on 9/11, 2001. But whatever else you think about the president, he did lead our nation through that storm. And he showed that we could soar above that storm, which probably explains why when he was reelected, and he stepped onto that platform to take the oath of office for a second term, with his hand on the Bible, every president gets to choose the verse he wants that Bible open to, I don't know if you know that or not.
When president Bush took his oath of office for the second time, he had that Bible open to this one particular verse, he had highlighted it in yellow. He had underscored it, he put a star beside it. He said later, this was my personal wish for my next four years in office. This was the verse. "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they'll run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint". So I'm talking to you, sweet people, I'm talking to you listening to me out there right now, you're in this believable storm of stress. Look up to an Unequaled God, listen to an Unlimited God, linger patiently with an Unfailing God, and God says, I promise you, you will soar above every storm. You'll handle every struggle and you will meet stress with success.
Would you pray with me right now with heads bowed and with eyes closed? The greatest stress that any human being has ever gone through, was a man in the garden of Gethsemane named Jesus. He was so stressed out, you ready for this? He sweat blood through his head, that's stress. He sweat blood through his head, he was so stressed out. But you know what? He met that stress with success because he waited on the Lord. He went to the cross his father had sent him to die on. And that God that sent him to that cross to die the most stressful death that's ever been experienced and ever will be, came through it victoriously, walked out of an empty tomb. And to this day, soars like the greatest eagle of all. And that's why Jesus died for you, and that's why he came back, because he wants to take even the problem of stress and show you how you can handle it with his strength.
So I want to say this and I want to say this very bluntly, whatever else is going on in your life, you say, man, I'm not stressed, my life's good, everything's cool with me. If you don't know Jesus, you better get stressed out. Did you hear me? If you do not know Jesus Christ, you better be stressed out, because you don't know stress until you know the stress of what it is to die and realize at that moment, you will spend eternity without the God who loves you, who died for you, who came back for you. I don't want you to ever experience that stress, and I pray you don't either. If you don't want to, would you do this? Would you just pray this prayer with me right now? Would you say:
Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner and I need a savior. And I'll realize now, whatever I'm stressed about, it's not anywhere near my biggest stress problem. My biggest stress problem is I don't know you. and I don't want to die without knowing you. So today I confess I need a savior. I confess I'm a sinner. I ask you to come into my heart, save me and forgive me of all my sins. I repent, I turn away from my sinful life, and I give all that I am to all that you are. Thank you, Lord Jesus for hearing my prayer. And thank you that I'll now know for the rest of my life, you took care of the greatest stress I could ever have. Any other stress is gravy to you and we'll walk through it together.