© 1999 James A. Fowler

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I. Biblical references to "stress"

    A. There are no Biblical references which use the word "stress"
    B. This does not mean that the Bible does not address what we term "stress"

II. Towards a definition of "stress"

    A. Physical science
         1. In the study of physics, "stress" is the term used to refer to pressure brought to bear upon               an object.
         2. Also refers to result of such pressure in deformities, etc.; ex. stress- fractures, cracks.
    B. Social science
         1. In the study of psychology, "stress" is a term used to refer to the pressures brought to bear               upon an individual by the situations and circumstances of life.
         2. Also refers to the mental, emotional and volitional reactions to such pressures creating               psychological distress and physical disorders.

III. Applying Biblical references to such sociological and psychological phenomenon

    A. The external pressures of the situations of life
         1. Examples of Biblical terminology
              a. Circumstances - Phil. 1:2; 4:11
              b. Trials - James 1:2; I Pet. 1:6; 4:12
              c. Tribulations - Jn. 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3; 8:35
              d. Troubles - Ps. 86:7; Job. 5:7
              e. Hardships - Job 10:17; I Thess. 2:9
              f. Ordeals - II Cor. 8:2; I Pet. 4:12
              g. Difficulties - II Cor. 12:10
              h. Distresses - Rom. 8:35; II Cor. 6:4; 12:10
              i. Persecution - Jn. 15:20; II Cor. 12:10; II Tim. 3:12
              j. Affliction - Job 36:15; II Cor. 6:4
              k. Suffering - Phil. 1:29; I Pet. 4:12,13
              l. Adversity - Job 2:10; Ps. 49:5; Eccl. 7:14
              m. Pressure - Job. 33:7; II Cor. 11:28
              n. Disaster - Job 30:24; Jere. 17:17
              o. Discipline - Job 5:17; I Cor. 11:32; Heb. 12:6
         2. Differing explanations among Christians
              a. "Christians shouldn't have problems" - exempt
              b. If having problems
                  (1) not mature or spiritual enough; don't have enough faith; not praying and working                           hard enough
                  (2) God punishing for past failures; withholding "blessing"
                  (3) Devil is after you
                  (4) victim of other's actions; blame others
                  (5) pray for deliverance
              c. Problems are to be expected in Christian life
                  (1) Make you grow stronger, better, more spiritual
                  (2) Avenues of God's action; opportunities and invitations to recognize and rely on                          God's sufficiency
    B. The internal reactions to the pressures of the situations of life
         1. Initial reaction leading up to a decision of action and reaction
              a. Initial reactions
                  (1) perplexity - II Cor. 4:8
                  (2) troubled - Jn. 12:27; 13:21
                  (3) distressed - Lk 12:50
                  (4) time to consider options
                  (5) time to pray
              b. Decision of action and reaction
                  (1) God made us choosing creatures
                  (2) Should not ask others to make decisions for us
                  (3) Most decisions do not have to be made immediately
                  (4) Should not allow "waiting on God" to become stalling procedure
                  (5) Indecision can be a decision; sin of omission
         2. Self-oriented decisions of action and reaction
              a. Mishandling of God's opportunities - Rom. 14:23
              b. Self-sufficiency
                  (1) I can resolve, explain, outlast, figure out (SELF)
                  (2) Change the circumstances
                  (3) Stoicism - survivalism, coping
                  (4) Fatalism - what will be, will be; "don't worry, be happy"
              c. Reactions
                  (1) Fight - Ex. anger, hostility, rage, hate, retaliation, bitterness, resentment, violence,                           judgmentalism, blame, victimization
                  (2) Fright - Ex. fear, anxiety, worry
                  (3) Flight - Ex. ignore, deny, retreat, avoidance, escapism, digression
         3. Consequences of self-oriented reactive decisions - Prov. 14:12
              a. Stress can lead to distress; dis-ease leads to disease
              b. Despair (II Cor. 4:8,9), desperation, depression.
              c. Hopelessness, helplessness, frantic, panic, hysteria
              d. Mental illness, nervous breakdown, psychosomatic
              e. Addiction, alcoholism, narcotics, medicines
              f. Self-destructive behaviors, suicide
         4. Reactive decisions of faith
              a. Faith - our receptivity of God's activity - Rom. 14:23
              b. Recognition of God's grace - II Cor. 3:5; 12:9
              c. Acceptance of the situation and provision - Lk. 22:42
              d. Rest in God's sufficiency - Matt. 11:28; Heb. 4:4-11
              e. Perseverance - Rom. 5:3; 12:12; James 1:12
              f. Endurance - I Cor. 4:12; II Tim. 4:5
              g. Rejoicing - James 1:2; I Peter 1:6
              h. Peace - Jn. 14:27; II Pet. 1:2
              i. Contentment - II Cor. 12:10; Phil. 4:11-13
              j. Filled with the Spirit - Eph. 5:18
              k. Abundant life - Jn. 10:10



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