Here is a good question for everyone who has ever had a bad day. If you are having a tough time is it ever OK to slap a man who is having a heart attack? Weird question? Allow me to explain.
My grandpa Phillips – my mom’s dad –scratched his living from the rich but reluctant foothills of North Carolina. He was a tobacco farmer of Welsh descent. His father became, by sheer force of backbreaking labor, a merchant-land baron of a sort. Pa Wendell, as I called him, could spin a yarn with the best of them. He possessed the gift of a “Welsh tongue.” He was endlessly entertaining, a captivating story teller, and possessed a lust for life that made everyone around him feel alive. Any gift that I may possess for telling stories and public speaking came from him. I loved being around him.
At his funeral I told a story that captures his wit and positive attitude. When he was around 50 he suffered a massive heart attack. It would be the first of several but he grabbed life by the throat and would not let go until he was 72. During that first heart attack he lay on the hospital gurney in the emergency room and actually died. The doctors shocked him back to life a couple of times and finally he stabilized. My grandmother became hysterical, as you can imagine. When she was allowed to see him she held his hand and with tears in her eyes asked if he “saw a light,” like many have described seeing when they were on death’s doorstep. He hesitated and then said, “At first, I thought I saw the Devil…but I woke up and it was only you.”
She slapped him right there in the hospital bed. I bet you’ve never seen that on an episode of the Andy Griffith Show. I guess some people handle stress better than others.
I love The Message paraphrase of Philippians 4:6-7. The Apostle Paul knew a lot about difficult places, people, and times. But his instruction shows us that we can overcome difficult days by turning our worries and stresses into prayers. “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”
Instead of worrying, pray. We worry about things we have no control over anyway. Instead of stressing and lashing out, praise. Focusing on the many things you have to be thankful for shifts your attitude into a better gear. Calmly let God know your concerns and petitions. Call it asking and receiving or vertical venting, but talking to God in an honest way centers you. And most importantly focus on Jesus. It will calm and settle you. I can’ think of any better advice on how to handle stress and worry.
So today, no matter what you face, turn it over to God. Remember to laugh a little. Take Jesus seriously and everything else…not so much. It will help you get through what you are going through.