Page 16 - EMCAPP-Journal No. 14
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Theological Perspectives of Stress                Jesus prvide a spiritual perspective that is not
             There  are  multitudes  of  environmental  events   only applicable for believers in an ancient time,
             that can serve as stressors for people, some of   but also for modern believers.
             which have already been discussed. Through the
             lens of the biblical writer, stress and worry may   But how does this relate to modern stressors?
             not be strongly differentiated. Stress, at least as   Remember that stressors are obstacles or events
             a conscious experience is often communicated      in our environment. Stress is experienced ac-
             as worry, fretting, or being overwhelmed. Stress   cording to the interpretation given these events.
             can come from experiencing horrific events and    Stressors deal with those things that put pres-
             it can be experienced as a result of daily hassles   sure on us. It makes really no difference what
             like  busy  schedules,  crowded  traffic  commu-  the pressure or stressor is. It is the experience of
             tes, or appliances breaking down. Some stress     the stressor that causes eventual breakdown or
             is brought on by our choices and commitments      exhaustion. There are many stress management
             while other stressors are out of our control. How   techniques  that  psychologists  and  counselors
             is one to see these events through a biblical or   can prescribe. They all work to varying degrees
             theological lens?                                 of success because they address the psycholo-
                                                               gical and physical aspects of humanity. In this
             Writing from the perspective of a tripartite na-  sense, believers and non-believers can all bene-
             ture of humanity, where persons are considered    fit equally well. However, a biblically informed
             to consist of body, soul, and spirit, the impact   psychology will also address the third part of
             of stress must be considered in each area of our   human nature, the spirit. Because man’s spirit
             lives. The evidence is clear about the impact of   has been brought from death to life (Rom. 6:13,
             stress on the physical and psychological aspects   8:10; 1 John 3:14), believers have a spirit that
             of our lives as previously discussed. But what    has communion with God. We have access to
             about the spiritual component of our lives? If    the Father through the Son and because of this
             present human experience is consistent with the   we have spiritual life. Spiritual life allows us to
             human experience of persons in biblical times,    see the world, including our stressors different-
             there may be examples of stress that Jesus and    ly. Paul wrote that “The man without the Spirit
             Paul address with persons, even if stress was not   does not accept the things that come from the
             part of the nomenclature. For example, in the     Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him
             Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs us to trust   and he cannot understand them, because they
             in God for our daily needs and not be anxious     are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14, NIV).
             like the pagans who worry about “tomorrow.”       In  coping  with  stress,  the  person  born  of  the
             A person whose spirit has been brought to life    spirit can reframe the stressors in life through
             through a relationship with Jesus (1 John 5:12)   the lens of God’s perspective. This psychological
             has a new perspective. In this new life, our spi-  reframe goes beyond the soulishness of the per-
             rit can commune with God’s spirit to give peace   son: it has spiritual meaning that only a child of
             in times of potential stress about one’s personal   God can fully grasp (1 Cor. 2:14). Where other
             needs. Paul built on this idea and said “Do not   stress management techniques address the body
             be anxious about anything, but in everything,     (exercise,  breathing),  or  the  soul  (distraction,
             by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, pre-   relaxation, list making, prioritizing, reframing),
             sent  your  requests  to  God.  And  the  peace  of   spiritual  approaches  are  ultimately  predica-
             God, which transcends all understanding, will     ted on trust in the person of Christ. Through
             guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Je-    trust in Christ, stressors have the potential to
             sus”  (Phil.  4:6-7,  New  International  Version).   take on meanings beyond simple psychological
             By writing these words, it seems obvious that     reframes. For example, the writer of Hebrews
             believers were feeling anxious and stressed. But   tells us to consider how the stressor (struggle,
             through the lens of spiritual reality, the belie-  hardship) can be seen through the lens of spi-
             ver can do something that unbelievers cannot      ritual discipline (Heb. 12:7). In this sense, the
             accomplish. Believers can trust God. Paul and     uncontrollable events that bring the experience

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