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Lesson 3: Stress *

Introduction: Is all stress bad? I know that too much stress makes it easier for me to get sick. On the other hand, some stress helps me to work efficiently. When it comes to public speaking, some stress helps me to do my best. Too much stress turns my brain to mush. Let's agree that too much stress is not good for us. Do you feel you have too much stress? Imagine the stress my father (and many like him) endured in his years in a World War II combat zone! Never did I think that if I lost a court argument someone would kill me! If you feel you suffer from too much stress, come with me as we explore what the Bible has to teach us about handling stess!

  1. Stress v. Worry

    1. Last week we discussed what the Bible had to say about worry (anxiety). Are stress and worry the same?

      1. If not, what is the difference?

      2. If they are not the same, do they overlap? (Certainly worry causes stress. In that sense they overlap. But, as we discussed last week, anxiety is generally associated with something which has not (and most likely will not) happen. Stress is the pressure you feel when something adverse is happening.)

    2. If something bad is not happening to you right now, is the stress you feel simply worry? (Last week we learned that trusting God is the best solution to worry.)

  2. Elijah and the Stress of the Message

    1. Read 1 Kings 17:1-4. Put yourself in Elijah's place. Would Elijah be facing stress or worry?

      1. How would you rate Elijah's job on the stress scale? (Ahab was the king. Elijah was confronting the king by presenting news that Ahab would not like.)

      2. If you were in Elijah's place, would your stress be greater because you needlessly worried? (Notice that God told Elijah to "hide" after he delivered the message to the king.)

      3. What stress relievers did God offer to Elijah? (He gave Elijah signs that He was with him. To address anxiety about the future, God gave Elijah instructions on a place to hide. He told Elijah how to avoid the stress of the drought by giving him instructions on food and drink.)

      4. What does this suggest about stress in our life? (That we will face it. But as with worry, trusting God gives us a way to limit our stress.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:1. Would this be more or less stressful than the last meeting with Ahab?(On the one hand, Ahab would have more reason to harm Elijah. On the other hand, the experience in the prior confrontation and the experience of God's protection should reduce the level of stress. Plus, Elijah was presenting good news this time.)

      1. Is there a lesson in this for us today? (If you want to feel less stress about something, practice it. The stress of public speaking decreases with public speaking experience. This includes practicing your specific presentation.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 18:2-4. Obadiah, we learn, is a follower of God. Is he a stranger to stress? (Resisting Queen Jezebel by hiding prophets seems stressful.)

    4. Read 1 Kings 18:7-9. How stressful a task is Obadiah given? (He thinks it will cost him his life.)

      1. Is Obadiah facing stress or worry?

      2. What does Obadiah think is Elijah's reason for giving him this stressful job? (He has done something wrong. That is a sign of worry.)

        1. Are you like Obadiah in this regard?

    5. Read 1 Kings 18:10-14. Ponder Obadiah's statement. What forms the foundation for his stress? (Worry. He thinks that God will continue to hide Elijah from King Ahab. But, God will not protect him from the king's wrath.)

      1. Notice that Obadiah relies on his good works. He argues that God should protect Him because he has protected God's prophets. Is this how we should approach God in stressful situations? (If God truly loves you, does He need to be persuaded to do the right thing on your behalf?)

    6. Read 1 Kings 18:15. This relieves Obadiah's stress. What do you think Obadiah's conversation might do for Elijah's stress level? (If Obadiah, a close associate of King Ahab, believed that his life would be in peril for not delivering Elijah, imagine if Ahab got his hands on Elijah?)

    7. Read 1 Kings 18:16-18. Does Elijah seem stressed?

  3. Elijah and the Stress of Contest

    1. Read 1 Kings 18:19-21. Have you ever been in court? Have you ever been in a contest in which much was at stake? Have you ever publicly challenged the forces of evil? How stressful are these activities?

      1. Do you think Elijah's life would be forfeited if he lost this contest?

      2. Are the people on Elijah's side? (The people "said nothing." They are waiting to see what will happen. Elijah does not have anyone who is stepping up to support him.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 18:22-24. When it comes to stress in your life, should numbers matter? (One against 450 (or 850) does not look good.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 18:25-26. Why would Elijah want the other side to start first? Is it because there are more of them? (Elijah has them go first because he is confident of the outcome.)

      1. Are the prophets of Baal feeling stress?

    4. Read 1 Kings 18:27-29. Is it appropriate to add to the stress of unbelievers?

      1. Making my opponents look stupid is a very effective form of argument. Read Luke 6:35 and 1 Peter 3:15. How do Elijah's actions fit with the counsel of Jesus and Peter? (I struggle with this. Recently, I took down a web site in which I made fun of those attacking my faith. However, I have a sense that making fun of the leaders of the forces of darkness is different than making fun of those simply stuck in sin.)

    5. Read 1 Kings 18:30-35. Do you think that Elijah was suffering any stress due to worry? (No! This is a confident man.)

    6. Read 1 Kings 18:36-39. What is Elijah's goal in this potentially stressful confrontation? (To bring glory to God.)

      1. What impact do you think this has upon stress? (If our goal is to bring glory to God, instead of glory to ourselves, our stress levels would be a lot lower.)

    7. Read 1 Kings 19:1-4. Is this burn-out? A reasonable reaction to extraordinary stress? (I am glad this is in the Bible. Elijah's life had been at risk for several years. Perhaps he had greater stress here because he had killed the false prophets. Whatever the reason, we see that even those who do great things for God sometimes fail to adequately trust God.)

    8. If you would like to read the next few verses, you will see that God came to Elijah to encourage him. Read 1 Kings 19:19-21. What provision does God make for Elijah to help him with stress? (He gives him a helper.)

  4. Jesus and Stress

    1. Can you imagine a life in which you healed people and taught people about God all the time? Would that be stressful? (Healing people would be extraordinarily fun! I love teaching the Bible.)

      1. So, what stress would Jesus face?

    2. Read Matthew 12:13-15. What stress does Jesus face in healing? (The stress for Elijah was combat with the forces of evil. That gives us a small glimpse into the amount of stress Jesus was under because He was at the center of the war between good and evil.)

    3. Read Luke 5:15-16. Do you feel stress or guilt over not completing all of the good things you need to do? (This text is just fascinating. Jesus decided to take personal prayer time instead of healing. This shows that even those doing the most important work should take time to withdraw and recharge.)

    4. Friend, do you feel stressed? If by trusting God you eliminate the worry part of stress, how much stress will be left? For what remains, why not treat it with trust and quiet times with God?

  5. Next week: Relationships.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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