Relief from World Tension
Only those who love and serve the true God have the remedy. What is it?
TOO MUCH tension is a world-wide problem. How seldom newspapers report, ‘Tension has been reduced in this or that country’! More often it is: ‘Tension is rising.’ Racial problems, political problems, riots and unrest stir up national tensions, and the international cold war stirs up world tensions. Crime and disease add to the toll of tension. Family relationships in many homes are tension-ridden. Faced with a world riddled with tension, what is the person to do who seeks relief from too much tension?
From the number of cigarettes smoked, the excessive use of alcoholic beverages and the increasing use of tranquilizing drugs, it is evident that tension is one of the most pressing problems today. Physicians often can do little more than prescribe tension-reducing drugs, relieving symptoms but not basic causes of tension. The root causes of tension must be found.
To find relief from world tension we must look at the causes of tension in the light of God’s Word, the Holy Bible. Much tension arises from failure to apply the Bible’s principles relating to human conduct. So the one who would find relief from too much tension must go to the Bible and take in an accurate knowledge of those principles that promote peacefulness, unity and a sound condition of body and mind.
Many tensions in this modern world have come from the habit of trying to keep up with one’s neighbors in material things, in seeking status symbols and in trying to become rich. “The way men live in our society,” says John Tebbel in The Magic of Balanced Living, “where success is the goal and failure the unforgivable sin, is producing a male population so ridden with tensions, fears and anxieties that men are quite literally killing themselves.” More and more, medical science is pointing to the close relationship between emotional stress and bodily illness. According to some authorities, too much tension is a big factor in heart disease. Seeing the tensions that a person is under in a materialistic world, what is he to do?
RELIEF BY APPLYING BIBLE PRINCIPLES
Apply the Bible principles: “Let your manner of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things.” “Having sustenance and covering, we shall be content with these things.” (Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:8) Those who ignore these principles will have a tension-filled life. For there will be constant anxiety, and contentment will flee away. “Those who are determined to be rich” are going to be snared and suffer from crippling tension. Why? Because “the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10.
Many persons have tension-filled lives because they do not apply the Bible principle: “Keep your senses in all things.” (2 Tim. 4:5) This covers a wide sphere of activity. So many tension-ridden persons are unbalanced. They may pursue odd or faddish diets, neglecting proper nutrition. Unbalanced eating over many years can result in a tension-crippled body. There needs to be proper balance between work, rest and sleep. Lack of adequate sleep over prolonged periods can result in too much tension. Discussing the failure to show good sense and the resultant tension, Dr. Walter C. Alvarez wrote:
“Many women keep going on their nerves for years until they finally are living always just one jump ahead of a nervous breakdown. If only for a few months they would cut down on some of their activities—if only they would . . . get a nap in the afternoon, and go to bed early—they could avoid many medical treatments and many operations, much shrieking at the children, perhaps much fighting with the husband, and in the end broken homes. Many persons who suffer from nervousness either did not inherit enough energy to begin with, or else they are nearly bankrupt because for years they have kept ‘blowing in’ what energy they have. Often they wear themselves out on nonessential activities. . . . Some of these persons have barely enough strength for their essential activities. Many people spread their energies too thin and that brings them close to a nervous breakdown.”
So each person must determine, then, what things in his life really matter. What is really important? Spend your energy on these vital things. The Christian does not want to be so worn out from excessive socializing or too much attention to hobbies that he does not have energy enough for serving God, for meeting together with God’s people. Make time for recreation and rest, but keep a balanced program so that vital things may be cared for.
If important things and responsibilities are not cared for, tension is likely to arise. Whether one has a secular job or responsibilities in connection with a Christian congregation, he should discharge his duties. A person who evades his responsibilities, who fails to do part of his job, usually knows in his heart that he is doing so, even though he may cover it up so cleverly that his overseers and even his co-workers are completely fooled. The knowledge that one is running away from responsibilities that one ought to face breeds tensions that are far more dangerous to one’s health than the stresses that might be encountered by tackling the job head on. Yes, relief from much tension comes from being balanced in all things, from channeling one’s energies to take care of the really important things.
RELIEVING TENSION IN PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS
A recent study of business executives revealed the fact that often it is not so much the daily work that results in too much tension. Telling of this study made by Dr. Gerald Gordon, chief psychiatrist of E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, the magazine Nation’s Business of January, 1961, said: “Long clinical experience has convinced him that many of the nervous disorders and stress diseases which are blamed on work can be traced to a man’s private life, and particularly to his home.”
If a man does not apply Bible principles to all aspects of his family relationships, tension inevitably arises. The husband who does not carry out his God-given role as head of the house will not find tranquillity but tension. Tension results whenever any divine principles are flouted. If, on the other hand, a husband deals cruelly with his wife and children, he cannot escape tension. Says God’s Word: “The cruel person is bringing ostracism upon his own organism.” (Prov. 11:17) The person that gives in to unkindness, anger, loose conduct and pride will suffer from tension.
The truth is that what the Bible calls “works of the flesh” are monstrous breeders of tension. Consider the following list given at Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, and they are fornication, uncleanness, loose conduct, idolatry, practice of spiritism, hatreds, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, contentions, divisions, sects, envies, drunken bouts, revelries, and things like these.”
To gain relief from undue tension one must root out all such tension-arousing qualities and practices. One must replace them with the fruitage of God’s spirit. Patience or long-suffering is part of the fruitage of God’s spirit, and what a power it has for relieving tension at home, at work and in all personal relationships! How many persons would free themselves of too much tension if they cultivated this divine fruitage! “The fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness, self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23) When one displays these qualities at all times, under all circumstances, then even the stresses of a wicked materialistic world are greatly minimized.
TRUST IN GOD AND HIS KINGDOM
For relief from too much tension, one must also give heed to Jesus’ remedy: “Never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own evil.” (Matt. 6:34) Especially in regard to material things does this counsel apply. To be anxious and in suspense about material needs for tomorrow can add up to a crushing burden of tension that may wreck body and mind. Though one should plan wisely for the future, it does no good to worry and be in anxiety. The thing is: If one has placed his trust in God and his kingdom instead of in material things, then he can be free of much anxiety and tension. Note Jesus’ words to his disciples:
“Quit being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or about your bodies as to what you will wear. . . . So quit seeking what you might eat and what you might drink, and quit being in anxious suspense; for all these are the things the nations of the world are eagerly pursuing, but your Father knows you need these things. Nevertheless, seek continually his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.”—Luke 12:22-31.
So the remedy for too much tension is trust in God and his kingdom, putting that kingdom first in one’s life. Then the Christian can concentrate on taking care of each day’s needs and he does not have to be in “anxious suspense” about tomorrow, as are the people of the nations. Yes, the Lord Jesus reminds Christians that the pursuit of food, clothing and housing is the main activity of the people of the nations. Jesus shows that Christians should remember who they are and not imitate the nations. The people of the nations have no loving heavenly Father, but true Christians have a heavenly Father who cares for them. The dedicated Christian, then, has certain obligations fall upon him, but God also has certain obligations on himself. God will live up to those obligations. So a Christian is to remember that he is not like the people of the nations, that he has a heavenly Provider and that God’s kingdom and its interests should be the first thing in his life. Then his life will not be filled with “anxious suspense” and resultant tension.
But what about the international cold war? What of the fears of push-button nuclear war? Yes, international tension affects the individual. How is the Christian to relieve tension in such an atmosphere, one in which the whole human race hangs in the balance?
AGE OF TENSION MEANINGFUL
Only in the light of accurate knowledge from the Bible can one deal with this tension unprecedented in history. In his book Must You Conform?, Dr. Robert Lindner wrote: “If anything can be said to characterize the time we are living in, it is the extreme tension that exists between the individual and his society. The pitch to which this tension has risen is something new in history.” This tension, reflected not only by the cold war but by riots, revolutions, terrorism and general unrest, was foretold by the Bible. Yes, the Bible foretold an age of tension.
Jesus Christ, the great Prophet, pointed forward to our day in these words: “There will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs. Also, there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:11, 25, 26.
Not knowing a way to solve the world’s problems and not putting their trust in God’s kingdom, people of the nations experience tension, even becoming “faint out of fear and expectation.” The world’s wise men who shape national and foreign policies often have their supposedly clever plans boomerang, and the resultant fiasco only adds to the world’s tension. Among the “fearful sights” and “great signs” from heaven are things that modern science has only recently discovered, such as cosmic rays and sudden, sporadic bursts of radiation, apparently caused by great disturbances on the sun. Many other tension-arousing events were foretold by Jesus for this generation, such as “great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages.”—Luke 21:11.
By going to the Bible, then, the Christian learns that these tension-producing events are all part of the great sign Jesus gave to mark the world’s “last days.” We are at the portal of a new world. God’s kingdom by Jesus Christ will soon destroy the kingdoms of this world as foretold by Daniel the prophet. (Dan. 2:44) Hence the sign of the “last days” does not produce morbid tension upon true Christians as it does for those people of the nations. Telling Christians what to do when they see this age of tension and its concomitant woes, Jesus said: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near. . . . when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:28, 31.
Knowledge of the meaning of world tension thus frees you from suffering the stress and strain experienced by those who have not put faith in the true God, whose name alone is Jehovah. But act upon this knowledge. Only to the extent that you apply Bible principles to your life, trust in God and put God’s kingdom first will you have relief from world tension.