A previous newsletter (449) summarized the findings of researcher Robert Epstein who argued that “we receive formal training in writing and math but learning to manage stress is left entirely to chance.” Writing in Scientific American Mind, Epstein gave a psychological analysis of what he termed “stress-management competencies.” But there was no acknowledgement that what we believe impacts how we anticipate and manage stress.
When natural disasters occur or when terrorist attacks kill thousands like they did ten years ago, millions of people find solace and coping skills in their religious communities and their beliefs in the supernatural. How interesting that the Mayor of New York declared this week that there would be no prayers at the tenth anniversary observances. There has long been speculation why some politicians and scientists ignore anything to do with God even though there is clear data that religious and spiritual beliefs, including prayer and meditation on Scripture, bring comfort to people in difficult times.
We live in this troubled world but “we don’t fight in the same way the world fights,” writes the apostle Paul. “We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places” (2 Cor 3-4). These biblical words do not focus on stress specifically but they are reminders that Christians have access to supernatural resources for stress management. Most of us believe that of our established stress-reduction methods ultimately come from the grace of God. They can be effective and work to bring calm in difficult times. But the more direct “weapons” that come from God can (and do) bring unexplainable peace, changes in the way we think, and inner tranquility in times of pressure and crises (John 14:27; Phil 4:4-7).
It is easy to lose this perspective when we work with scientific data, evidence-based methods, professional guidelines, and sophisticated explanation models. But in times of increasing uncertainty it is well to pause regularly and remember the divine resources that we bring to our work and to our clients.