Stress, a New Name for an Old Problem

I try to keep this blog pretty light hearted but there has been something God has placed on my heart lately and I feel like I should share. 

We hear the word “stress” a lot. It is in news articles, health journals, Facebook statuses. This word is thrown around a LOT. Heck, I throw it around a lot too. I will readily admit that the words “I am stressed” are embedded in my vocabulary. 

I, however, started wondering about stress. We talk about how stressed we are, and how stress is killing us etc. However, I think about the times BEFORE now. We call them “simpler” times, but were they really? They didn’t have nearly the information we had, or the automation! I can imagine “stress” was just as common then as it is now. In Biblical times, people were often being killed, persecuted, starving, etc. Considering this, you would THINK that “stress” would be something that the Bible would cover. Pretty sure Moses’ mom was STRESSED when the political dictator of her time decided to kill all baby boys. But the word stress doesn’t seem to appear in the Bible…so what do we do about that? 

I have a theory. I don’t think stress is a new thing. I think it is just a RENAMED thing. I think we renamed it so that it rolls off the tongue easier. So it is more societally acceptable. So what did we rename? We renamed FEAR. Yup, F-E-A-R! The Bible DEFINITELY addresses fear. However, it doesn’t sound good to say “I am fearful” or “I am afraid”. Yet, when you think about the majority of cases, that is EXACTLY what “stress” is. Let me give some examples.

When you are at work, and you are very busy. You have a lot of work to get done by a certain deadline. You are “stressed”. Are you really stressed? Or are you fearful? I argue you are fearful. You are fearful that you won’t be able to complete the task by the deadline. If you don’t complete it by the date you let your boss down, you risk your job, etc etc etc. 

Someone in your family is sick, you are stressed. Are you stressed or fearful? You are afraid that person won’t get better and you lose them. You are afraid you won’t be able to afford the treatment. You are fearful the doctors won’t be knowledgeable. The list goes on. 

Ever heard people say they are stressed about money? They aren’t stressed… they are FEARFUL. Fear is something the Bible talks about. We are not to be afraid. 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

A quick google search will provide you with a dozen more references to fear. We are to trust God. Of course, I haven’t mastered this in any way shape or form. However, I think the first step in tackling stress is to recognize it for what it TRULY is. 

So the word “stress”, when does it apply? You can be under physical stress (ie during a strenuous workout). This isn’t fear, this is actual stress. Since our bodies are usually taxed when we are dealing with times of great anxiety/fear, I can see how easily stress could have replaced fear. 

Let’s start calling stress by its true name, and seeing how God can truly cast out all fear. 

Lindsey Portugal is a blogger, photographer, and artist based in the Fort Mill, SC outside the Charlotte, NC metro area.

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