The past year hasn’t been great for me physically. I’ve got a great doctor who happens to go to my church. More accurately, I go to his church seeing as he’s been there much longer than I have, and he’s been my doc since before I started attending. He’s been concerned for my blood pressure for the better part of two years.
I’m not sure why it got so high. I was only 40, and all the other facets of my blood work were fine. Yet, it had gotten to 149 over ninety-something at one point. He’s encouraged me – over and over again – to exercise and eat better. My struggle got much worse last year when I really hunkered down and still lost no weight, and my blood pressure didn’t improve. It kinda makes a guy not want to try. Why do all the work if things don’t change anyway?
Well, last week I went to the doc and my blood pressure was 122/76. That’s about as good a blood pressures get. Both of us were pleasantly surprised. I paid attention to eating and exercise since my last visit four months ago, but nothing like I had done last year when I was on the verge of needing blood pressure medicine. The only thing I can come up with is that my life is much less stressful now. Starting a church was pretty stressful, and being unemployed without unemployment benefits for almost a full year can do a number on you too.
If that’s the reason, and I suspect it is, than my faith – which I had thought was one of my spiritual gifts – is less than adequate, right? How can someone who has the hope of Jesus Christ allow the things of this world to weigh him down? It’s a valid question that’s without an easy answer. It’s a question I’ve struggled with.
I’m not gonna say that stress is the way to go, but take a close look at the Bible and you’ll see that many righteous people had stress in their lives. Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Job had a pretty rough go of it, losing all of his family and wealth. When John the Baptist was in prison and nearing his execution he sent a messenger to ask Jesus if he truly was the Messiah, just to be sure. And, how about Jesus sweating blood in the Garden? I’ll bet all of their blood pressures were high.
Stress doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re included in this class of Bible peeps. But this list indicates that your difficulty coping doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a faith failure either. God could be preparing you for something incredible. That’s what I’m counting on.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4, NIV)