Can’t Cope With That

My soul clings to the dust; revive me according to Your word. My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word. – Psalm 119:25; 28 NKJV.

Unless Your law had been my delight (If your law had not been my delight – NIV), I would then have perished in my affliction. I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have given me life. – Psalm 119:92-93 NKJV. 

Steven Slater is the latest to have “lost it” being unable to cope with a very stressful situation as a JetBlue flight attendant. (According to a Wikipedia article NONE OF SLATER’S STATEMENTS WERE CORROBORATED BY OTHER PASSENGERS. It was later found by investigators that Slater was drunk and suffering from mental problems. A later mental health evaluation revealed he had a clinical mental disorder and alcohol abuse problem.)   

Slater claimed he tried to mediate a dispute between two women passengers prior to the flight departing Pittsburgh. The two women he claimed were arguing over space in the overhead storage area, and Steven was hit in the head accidentally during that attempt at a peaceful intervention. One of the women refused to stay seated as requested, and that was when Steven was struck by the luggage.   

Upon the plane landing in New York and prior to deplaning, Slater claimed there was an additional dispute involving one of the two women and him. The woman was upset that the luggage that she was forced to gate-check would not be immediately available and verbally attacked Steven. After this Steven said a few choice words to the woman over the intercom ending with “I’ve had it.” He then grabbed two beers, and deployed the emergency chute leaving the plane, and is now facing several criminal charges with bail set at $2500 (2017 update: Slater ended up serving a year of probation.). A defense attorney stated at an arraignment that Slater was under stress because of his mother’s lung cancer. At last count a Facebook page set up in his honor already had 30,857 likes (Searching today in 2017 could not find the page, although he does have a facebook profile with the last post in 2010).

Most of us know what it is like to “lose it” although probably not in such a dramatic and public way as did Steven Slater. With Steven, you can see the progression of stress. Stress builds up with layer upon additional layer of emotional pressure coming upon a person. Steven was already under stress just because he works in stressful job in a stressful environment. In addition, his mother was seriously ill. All of this stressful pressure was all piled on top of him until he reached his breaking point. His breaking point came when he had to handle what he somehow; in his drunken and mentally confused state, perceived as a verbally abusive, and rule breaking passenger.

What do you do when you just cannot cope anymore with a situation? My favorite is to cry out “Lord help me!” However, the best way to handle stressful situations and living a stressful life is not to wait until you are at your breaking point to ask the Lord for help. The Psalmist gives us some indications in Psalm 119 as to how he could cope with living on the edge through very difficult times. Psalm 119 is the longest psalm, and it is a hymn of praise magnifying the Word of God. The Psalmist says that the Law of God, the Word of God was his delight and if that had not been true “I would then have perished in my affliction.”

If you delight in something what do you do? You want to be around it, you want to study it, you want to meditate upon it, and you never want to forget about it, because you love it. That is what was going on in the life of the Psalmist. That is why he was able to stand up under the pressure cooker of a life that he lived and stay faithful to God.

So, long before you arrive at the point in life that you “lose it,” that you “can’t cope with something” make the Word of God your delight. Every day immerse yourself to the extent that you can in the Words of God. Meditate upon the Word of God, study it, memorize it, read it, listen to it, and you will discover that you have the supernatural strength you need to cope with whatever life brings your way.

(The Psalmist gives us some indications in Psalm 119 as to how he could cope with living on the edge through very difficult times.)

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