Category: Cultural Commentary Written by Jim Denison
It's been a tough week leading up to tonight's final presidential debate.
The local Republican headquarters in Hillsborough, North Carolina made national headlines when a firebomb was thrown through its front window last Sunday. Later that day, comedian Amy Schumer was performing in Tampa, Florida when she began slamming Donald Trump. Some two hundred people walked out. Yesterday a terrible caricatured statue of Hillary Clinton was displayed in lower Manhattan, causing a furor on social media.
For many, the election can't get here soon enough. According to the American Psychological Association, more than half of America's adults say the election has been a large or significant source of stress for them.
So-called "Election Stress Disorder" is just part of the larger picture. Nearly three out of four adults report feeling stressed about money at least some of the time. Eighty percent of workplace accidents and doctor visits are attributed to stress.
Stress contributes to headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety. It is a linked to some cancers and costs American industry more than $300 billion each year.
How should we respond?
I'd like to focus this morning on an overlooked factor that relates directly to the stress epidemic in our culture. You and I live in a society that is consumed with status. We measure ourselves by others—how they look, what they wear, what they drive, where they live. We determine our success by comparison with theirs. And because there's always someone who has done more or owns more, there's always a reason to feel defeated and stressed.
Here's where an insight I heard this week can help.
Jared Billups is Gathering Pastor at Highland Baptist Church in Waco, Texas. He participated in a panel discussion on worship I led this week at Dallas Baptist University, where he made this astute observation: "Comparison is the enemy of everything God has made you to be." Jared cited David's refusal to wear King Saul's armor before using his own slingshot to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17:38–39).
When we try to be someone we're not, we're doomed to a life of frustration. When we decide to be the person God made us to be and let others do the same, much of the stress we feel is lifted.
You and I cannot control what the candidates say tonight or what the country says about them tomorrow. But we can control how we respond to the vitriol of the campaign and anything else that attacks our peace in Christ. We can refuse to be "anxious about anything," praying instead about everything (Philippians 4:6) and claiming the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (v. 7).
And we can decide to fight our giants using our unique capacities and spiritual gifts, secure in the knowledge that God has given us all we need to win the victory he intends for us. Mark it down: "We are more than conquerors through him who loved us" (Romans 8:37).
Who's your Goliath today? What slingshot is in your hand?