In episode 14 of the short-form series Nyanbo!, Mike becomes quickly stressed. Why? Because he has no stress. Early on in the episode, Tora, the leader of this small group of Nyanbo, tells Mike that he has no stress. Mike then spends the entire episode proving that others are stress free too. What does he discover? He is the only one who appears to be stress free. This starts to drive him crazy and make him stressed. Why is he not worrying? What is he missing? He should be stressed too. He is comforted by the fact that he has stress…due to his lack of stress. But, should that provide Mike comfort? I would argue no.
Every one of the Nynabo had some level of stress. They were stressed about building their UFO to return home. Some were stressed about the way they looked. Some were stressed about their relationships. Stress was everywhere. Yet, Mike lived care free until he realized he did not have stress. Realizing he had none made him have stress.
Various anime characters deal with stress differently. That actually is the entire plot of the Sanrio created anime character and short form series Aggressive Retsuko. In that series, Retsuko is a red panda office worker who gets out her anger and stress through metal karaoke. Each episode shows her stress levels rising with difficulties at work until she finally releases it, either internally or externally through karaoke.
There are all sorts of things in life that provide stress to us. We have work, school, family, friends, and even our own health providing stress to us. Stress is unhealthy and be it from work related activities or from our lack of care, we need to find a way to combat stress. Enter Jesus.
The Bible speaks to stress and worrying, but what I always turn to is Jesus Himself and His words on worrying. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount. In this passage, He begins by telling you not to worry. He says to stop being anxious about what you will eat, what you will drink, or what you will wear. Why? Well, He gives us some reasons.
First, Jesus tells us that life is about more than merely food and clothing. He is right. We have so many things to live for – from living for the Lord, to our family, our friends, and the many who rely upon us every single day. These things are far more important than worrying about our day to day needs.
Second, He reminds us that the Lord provides for the animals and the plants. As a Christian, we believe ourselves to be created in the image of God. If the Lord provides food and water for plants and animals, we shouldn’t be focusing our worries on such things. He then goes on to say that flowers a beautiful without any additional adornment, so we too should not focus our attention on outward appearances. Does this mean God will provide everything while we sit on our butts? Of course not. Sometimes things are provided via hard work. Sometimes through a friend. Sometimes what is provided seems slim, seems insufficient. But, the Lord is reminding us again of His sufficiency.
There are then two pieces of wisdom I also want to discuss. First is from verse 27, the second from verse 34. In Verse 27, Jesus says, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” The answer of course is no. In fact, the opposite is true – stress is scientifically shown to literally be killing you. So no, adding worry upon worry does not add a single hour to our life – it detracts from it.
In Verse 34 Jesus says, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” This is one that comforts me as well. Tomorrow will be filled with worries, it will be filled with potential issues. You cannot control what the future will hold. Focus on what you can do right now and deal with your current situation. Deal with the stressors facing you now and work them out.
Does this mean ignore the future altogether? Of course now. If we did not plan, we would not be good stewards of what the Lord provided us. Does that mean ignore our bills or debts and just shrug it all off? Of course not – Christ told people to render unto Caesar that which was his, we still need to make good on our debts. However adding stress upon stress is pointless.
If our stress come from a lack of worrying, we need to calm down. If our stress comes from our work feeling overloading, we need to find a way to calm down. Honestly, Retsuko may have the right idea when she lets out her anger by singing. She’s not doing anything overtly sinful. She’s not actively insulting people. She’s not being unkind (well, not all the time). She’s listening to music and singing along. Music can provide a level of calm for others.
How about you? Are you filled with stress? Do you need to get that stress out of your system? Work on that – as we all could use less stress in our lives.