Blessed And Stressed

Blessed And Stressed November 21, 2022

A billboard carries the message for a local church. It includes the words “too blessed to be stressed.” The word “prosperity” rings in my head every time I see it. Prosperity gospel preachers and believers lack imagination. In their world, one cannot both enjoy blessings and live with stress. If a person feels bad, then they conclude that person is not among “the elect.” This lack of imagination means failing at empathy. People would not practice compassion for others until they believed themselves free of care. And this idea is ridiculous. This Thanksgiving season I am blessed and stressed. I accept it for what it is. I cannot say I am okay with it. But it is life presenting stuff life presents.

Being Stressed

I hate hearing happy-talk when I am feeling down. Maybe others feel the same way. Someone always wants to say, “but consider…” I already have considered, thank you. This year my stressors are completely out of my control.

  1. The congregation I serve as Pastor is a victim of the pandemic and the agitation of the Wesleyan Covenant Association. They are not disaffiliating. They are disbanding. The pain caused by an eruption a few years ago has not been healed. I was not part of that disruption. But I have tried to heal some of it. The vote to close came despite every effort to find an alternative.
  2. I campaigned for and failed to win a seat on the city school board. I think about the effort and money spent. Was it really worth it? Some people say it was.
  3. I grieve what has been happening to my Church and my community. I feel anger but do not want it to turn to hatred. The turmoil caused by liars is not met by any response from the leadership. It causes the anger in me to grow.

Being Blessed

Are curses sometimes mistaken for blessings? Are blessings sometimes mistaken for curses? Is life like the Chinese story about good fortune and bad fortune? I do not believe so. But I do see curses when others name blessings. The people who feel the need to leave and destroy as they leave believe themselves blessed. They consider themselves blessed for their faithfulness to their prejudices. They destroy because they believe as “warriors for God” it is their duty. More blessings are sure to come, they think.

I joke with my District Superintendent that he sent me to my present appointment with less than full-time status to “reduce my stress.” They are his actual words. Did someone say something about the road to hell being paved with good intentions? But I love the people I serve. One member even thanked me, “for staying with us.” and not checking out on them. I do not think I have received better praise than that in my life.

Stressed Blessings

My high school Health class spoke of stress in two ways. There is good stress and bad stress. Living things need stress in order to grow, it seems. Good stress are the thrills and chills of horror movies and rollercoasters. Bad stress is earning your bread by the sweat of your brow. It is the type that sends one to a stress test and cardiac care. It is the type of stress we seek to be relieved from or avoid entirely. Both kinds are needed to grow. And having too much of both can kill.

Anyone seeking to live without stress is not seeking life. “Too blessed to be stressed” is another way of saying, “Go in peace, be warmed and eat your fill.” (James 2:16b) People in comas are merely made comfortable. So are people who are dying. Blessings without stress are unreal. The goal is to live in the blessed state while dealing with the stresses of life. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for you will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

 


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