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Stress Pandemic 26: Nothing and Noticing


Issue 626

We are focusing on a fifteen-year journey of a young lad who suffered massive trauma, including physical injury and how his story unfolded.

In much of this series, I have been advocating the active role that you can play in handling your own stress.

When it comes to long-term stress it is important to see the role of outside factors. For Mephibosheth at five years old it all happened to him. Years later when David showed him kindness this also happened to him.

Sometimes long-term stress is so debilitating and paralyzing that it cannot be faced without help. Mephibosheth was living in the Land of Nothing. He would have experienced the crippling effect of his daily life. It is interesting that he is repeatedly described in the story as ‘crippled’.

Let me outline a few of the symptoms of nothingness which creep into the soul of the chronic stress sufferer.

First, the ordinary tasks of life become a challenge. For Mephibosheth he went from an active five-year-old boy to someone for whom movement was now extremely difficult. This was literally true but would also be psychologically true.

You may have experienced this in yourself or others. Perhaps you or someone you know is normally decisive and clear. Chronic stress sucks that energy away leaving the sufferer struggling with even simple decisions. Things that are normally taken in their stride become laborious and awkward.

This impact on decision making can have a knock-on impact into other areas. Lack of decisiveness can lead to wondering whether decisions are worth making at all. It’s a small step down the path to saying, “nothing really matters” and a few further steps to “I don’t matter”. I have seen many people in the last 40 years (there I said it!) who have experienced this sense of nothingness and it is a truly unpleasant state of mind.

Let me, if I may, point out some more details of David’s kindness. Mephibosheth’s question was “what is your servant that you would notice a dead-dog like me?” Right there in the question is part of the kindness. David noticed him. David had done a lot of work to find Mephibosheth and this was all part of the noticing process. A person in nothingness needs to be noticed. A person in nothingness believes no one notices.

How many times have you experienced the kindness of someone who really notices you? Jesus of Nazareth, the ultimate son of David, specialized in noticing. In fact, his whole arrival on earth was an expression of noticing.

David’s kindness started with noticing, but it did not stop. There is a beautiful description of the nature of David’s kindness. It is mentioned four times in the short account. It is contained in the phrase “You will always eat at my table”.

Mephibosheth’s stress started with a catastrophe, a catastrophic, traumatic day. Its impact was long-term.

David’s kindness started with noticing and a massive show of generosity, but, and this is the key, it turned into sustained long-term kindness.

Long-term stress does not go overnight. It requires intervention for sure, but it also takes a long time to find a measure of recovery. Every day Mephibosheth experienced the kindness of David, he always ate at his table.

Mephibosheth was living (or more like dying) in the land of nothing but the last we hear of him he was living in Jerusalem (the house of bread). Long-term stress takes time to deal with. David’s kindness was long-term. You do the math’s this week.

Work well today,

Geoff Shattock

© Geoff Shattock  October 2019


2 Samuel 4:4
4 (Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)

2 Samuel 9:1-13
1David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”  2 Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”  “At your service,” he replied.  3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”  Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”  4 “Where is he?” the king asked.  Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”  5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.  6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.  David said, “Mephibosheth!”  “At your service,” he replied.  7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”  8 Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?”  9 Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, “I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.” (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)  11 Then Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.” So Mephibosheth ate at David’s[a] table like one of the king’s sons.  12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

See also: 1 Samuel 31

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Series: Stress Pandemic
Module: 1
Daily Guide: No


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Geoff Shattock

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