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!
- Stress v. Worry
- Last week we discussed what the Bible had to say about
worry (anxiety). Are stress and worry the same?
- If not, what is the difference?
- 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
- 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.)
- Elijah and the Stress of the Message
- Read 1 Kings 17:1-4. Put yourself in Elijah’s place.
Would Elijah be facing stress or worry?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Read 1 Kings 18:7-9. How stressful a task is Obadiah
given? (He thinks it will cost him his life.)
- Is Obadiah facing stress or worry?
- 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.)
- Are you like Obadiah in this regard?
- 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.)
- 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?)
- 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
- Read 1 Kings 18:16-18. Does Elijah seem stressed?
- Elijah and the Stress of Contest
- 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?
- Do you think Elijah’s life would be forfeited if he
lost this contest?
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Are the prophets of Baal feeling stress?
- Read 1 Kings 18:27-29. Is it appropriate to add to the
stress of unbelievers?
- 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
- Read 1 Kings 18:30-35. Do you think that Elijah was
suffering any stress due to worry? (No! This is a
- Read 1 Kings 18:36-39. What is Elijah’s goal in this
potentially stressful confrontation? (To bring glory to
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Jesus and Stress
- 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.)
- So, what stress would Jesus face?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- Next week: Relationships.