Psalm 107:1-32 Learning to Deal With My Stress
Psalm 107:1-32 Learning to Deal With My Stress (Personal Reset – Reset Part 1)
Sometimes, my computer starts to slow down and become less effective. Sometimes my satellite TV box overheats. The dishwasher dies. The computer dies. Sometimes, our appliance needs a reset. I unplug and replug back in the appliance. I restart the computer. I replace a dishwasher with a new appliance that reset in its position. These actions illustrate different ways that I can reset.
The same is true for me. I get to a point in my life when life takes me out of rhythm. I drift from God’s Word. I stop praying as a daily habit. Vacations tilt my time and effectiveness. The summer messes up my routine. Events in my life challenge my attention to God and His purposes for me.
On occasion, we have to make resets in our lives. I am beginning a new series I am calling “Reset.” I want to address areas that need a reset in my life. Maybe I need to replace a habit or plug back into a group. Maybe I need to re-engage in ways that God expects me to. I want to address five different areas in which I can reset. The first will be a personal reset. Here, I will address resetting myself. It is a challenge to look at myself and see how I can reset my life despite all the stress around me.
Then, next week, we will look at what the Bible says about resetting my relationships. We will look at ways we can love others through self-discipline. On the following week, we will look at how to get a spiritual reset. We will look at ways I can address my spiritual growth as a Christian. Later in the month, we will look at ways I can make a financial reset. We will end this series by looking at how this church can reset its vision for the future. Let’s address the first reset a Christian can make and that is about how to deal with stress.
This text talks all kinds of difficult, distressing, and ultimately stressful situations a person may find themselves in. You can be going through a similar stressful situation. But no matter what your situation seems to be, God is bigger and He can help you.
This text begins with God and His goodness to us.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his faithful love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1, CSB)
FACT: God is good, and He loves you forever – no matter what you are going through.
Even when your situation doesn’t seem good, you need to know that God is good. He doesn’t cause the bad thing in your life. He definitely wants to help you. In these verses, we see people who are going through very stressful situations. In each case, God provides a vehicle to alleviate the stress.
Every stressful situation is different. Your stressful situation may be different than my stressful situation. However there are two facts will be the same throughout this psalm and also in our situation. First, we cry out to God. You will see that every stress brings a cry from the people. The psalmist reminds us that stresses brings us to our knees and we cry out to God. As a matter, the act of crying is itself a stress reliever.
Gregg Levoy, writing in Psychology Today, reports that crying can actually remove chemicals that build up during emotional stress. According to Levoy, the amount of manganese stored in the body affects our moods, and the body stores thirty times as much manganese in tears as in blood serum. Biochemist William Frey says the lachrymal gland, which determines the flow of tears, concentrates and removes manganese from the body. Frey has also identified three chemicals stored up by stress and released by crying.1
The second fact is that when we cry out (that is the first fact), then God answers. God always answers when we call out to Him. Now He may not answer in the way that I want Him to answer. His answer may seem silent sometimes. Because “no” is an answer as much as “yes” is an answer. So when we cry out to God, we need to recognize that God will always answer our cry for help.
In the remainder of this psalm, we see descriptions of the predicaments of people of any age—perhaps where you or someone around you might be even presently:
In verses 4 through 9, we see a fainting traveler needing direction who finds a Guide.
In verses 10 through 16, we see a weary captive needing freedom who finds a Deliverer.
In verses 17 through 22, we see a sick soul needing healing who finds a Physician.
In verses 23 through 30, we see a storm-tossed sailor needing tranquility who finds a Haven.2
I have chosen to illustrate these same four circumstances with “vehicles.” I believe that this psalm shows four vehicles God uses to help with our stress.
FOUR VEHICLES GOD USES TO HELP YOU WITH YOUR STRESS
God helps you like a TOW-TRUCK (107:4-7)
“Some wandered in the desolate wilderness, finding no way to a city where they could live. They were hungry and thirsty; their spirits failed within them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; he rescued them from their distress. He led them by the right path to go to a city where they could live.” (Psalm 107:4–7, CSB)
He will RESCUE you out of your situation.
I have had times when God had to rescue me. Once, I was in Joplin, and my car died. It wasn’t the battery, and so I had to get it towed to get it fixed. Then just this past Friday, the water pump went out that morning while I was in town. Again, the same guy had to come and fix the car and guide me back to safety. In each of these cases, I could get mad at God because He isn’t helping me like I think He should. Instead, I depend on Him to help me. It may be a stranger, but more often, he brings me people I need.
Of course, some of you are thinking that I need to get another vehicle. Maybe, but it does not matter. Sometimes in our lives, we have a hard time getting to where we need to go. But God will show us the way.
God helps you like a POLICE CAR (107:13)
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; he saved them from their distress.” (Psalm 107:13, CSB)
He will PROTECT you out of your destructive lifestyle.
Sometimes, the best way to protect you from your destructive lifestyle is to put you in a safe place where you can get monitored and be checked.
Sometimes, you need to go through the consequences of sinful decisions – the same sinful decisions you thought would help you out of your stress. You need to go through the consequences of these decisions. You need to get broken. The best place a man can be broken is in prison. Either you will turn from your way in prison, or you will harden yourself.
God helps you like an AMBULANCE (107:19)
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; he saved them from their distress.” (Psalm 107:19, CSB)
He will SAVE you from death.
Sometimes, you need help with the situation, and you don’t need protection from what you did to get yourself in the situation. Instead, you need salvation because the situation is so stressful.
Sometimes, you do not need a tow truck, or a policeman. You need an ambulance. The stress is killing you and you need expert help to repair yourself. You don’t know how to make the situation better. Instead, you need someone who can make it better.
God helps you like a LIGHTHOUSE (107:28)
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress.” (Psalm 107:28, CSB)
He will LEAD you out of difficult, stressful times in your life.
Many times, God will lead us through the stressful times in our lives. He will let us go through some stress, but then He is there to comfort us. He helps us overcome the stress. He teaches us how to work out the stress.
This scene paints a picture of someone out at sea and unable to get to their destination because there are storms in the way. The water is rough, the storms are high, and there seems to be no way to get out of the situation. Then a lighthouse appears (107:30).
“They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet. Then he guided them to the harbor they longed for.” (Psalm 107:30, CSB)
The lighthouse doesn’t change the circumstances. Instead, the lighthouse provides a way for me to see how to get out of my circumstances. It leads me through my difficult, stressful times.
This lighthouse illustration is similar to the way Jesus had to see His way through the cross.
“keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2, CSB)
Jesus saw the lighthouse – the joy of being with God, and used that to guide Him through the most intense suffering anyone would every encounter.
Jesus, during His most stressful situation, in the Garden of Gethsemane, prayed for God to take away the suffering that Jesus would soon go through. Unlike other previous times in the New Testament, God never vocally spoke to Jesus, like God did at His baptism. In the garden, God was silent. He answered Jesus’ prayer when Jesus cried out. Jesus wanted to go one direction – a detour around the cross. Yet, God didn’t let Him take the detour.
Why do we and others go through storms? Sometimes, the Lord allows them because it’s only in the storm that we come to our wits’ end and cry to Him. Therefore, it’s important that we don’t try to always calm the storms the Lord has commanded either in our own lives or in the lives of others. Rather, we should say, “Lord, fulfill Your purpose in this storm, that in our desperation, we might cry to You.”3
1 More Real Stories for the Soul, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 162.
2 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume Two: Psalms-Malachi (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 134.