Workplace Stress... Ughhh!
In the last ten days, I have been reminded of the stress and strain of business and the solace that can come from the Scriptures instead of the latest self-help, business book. Oh, do not get me wrong - I am a strong proponent of learning from others but too often my first inclination when difficulty arises is to go to someone, anyone, other than to the wisdom that is found in the Word of God.
On Sunday David Swanson, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, preached on Psalm 42. These are eleven verses of good news for those of us who struggle with the harsh realities of life whether they are personal or business related. If you have not read it anytime soon, let me commend it to you.
Charles Spurgen has said in his Treasury of David (vol 1) that this Psalm is -
…full of deep experimental expressions, it is eminently calculated to instruct those pilgrims whose road to heaven is of the same trying kind as David’s was.
Spurgeon goes on to say that,
…we who have been rescued as they were from going down into the pit, out of the mere good pleasure of Jehovah, can heartily join in this Psalm.
And join in we should, both literally and spiritually. Literally takes on multiple meanings. First, we should get to know this Psalm—read it repeatedly, memorize key verses, meditate on it, and pray through it. Second, as David Swanson mentioned in his sermon, do not be afraid to come humbly to God and ask as the Psalmist did, Why have you forgotten me? Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? (Ps. 42:11, ESV) However, if God does not offer you a discernible answer, then once again, we need to look to the Psalmist whose next refrain was, Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God (Ps. 42:11, ESV). This is good news indeed.
Beyond joining in literally, there is the opportunity to connect spiritually to this Psalm as well. Given the massive amount of time we spend on work, it should not be surprising that this is a major source of frustration for us. Business deals gone awry, difficult co-workers, intense travel schedules, the economic realities of our business choices, the slow pace of progress or no progress, the disappointment that accompanies poor job satisfaction, and there are many more stressors that could be added to this list. Any one of these frustrations alone could cause us to cry out to God, Why have you forgotten me? Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? (Ps. 42:11, ESV)
There can be a kind of loneliness and feelings of isolation that cast long shadows over our work struggles. Often, we are limited in where we can turn for help, which usually just adds to the heaviness of our burdens. It is in these moments that we have a choice: We can seek refuge in our Heavenly Father or we can lean on ourselves.
The Creator of heaven and earth, the one who is called Holy, Holy, Holy does NOT limit His sovereignty and reign by excluding our work and businesses. Rather as the late, theologian Dr. R.C. Sproul was fond of saying, “there are no maverick molecules.” Nothing is beyond the purview of our Savior. It is with this confidence that we can not only sing the praises of our God, but also cling to Him as our rock, our refuge, even when or especially when we face devastating news. Again Spurgeon’s comments are helpful here in acknowledging our humanness while submitting ourselves to the Divine:
How can the strong God, who is as firm and abiding as a rock, be also as hard and unmoved as a rock towards those who trust in him? Such inquiries humbly pressed often afford relief to the soul. To know the reason for sorrow is in part to know how to escape it or at least to endure it.
This is one example of what it means to spiritually join in with Psalm 42.
The challenges of business can at times seem overwhelming. Over the past five years, the lion share of my sleepless nights can be attributed to anxiety and uncertainty related to my business. You should know that I am a master at the mental gymnastics that morphs the stress into an issue of my character and self-worth. This all becomes fodder for Satan to work me over while exasperating my stress. Now that all the issues are my fault, I am sufficiently distracted and not thinking about seeking comfort and understanding from God’s Word. I tend to focus on what I can do better which is further fueled by my pride and self-reliant spirit.
It is hard work not to succumb to this vicious cycle or whatever yours looks like. While your details may be different, the realities of workplace challenges are ever present, and they are not going away.
The Collaborative is about the redemption of work. One of the ways we can do this is by leaning into Psalm 42 and all of Scripture. God beckons us to Himself and His Word in Matthew 11:28, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
May we all sleep more soundly tonight.
Crosland Stuart, of Crosland & Company, LLC, works with The Collaborative on marketing, recruiting, and content creation. Additionally, she also works in the areas of foundation consulting, communications, and is a literary agent.