The Seventh Part of a Ten Part Series on Anxiety and Stress Which Began on February 23, 2016Learning Your Capacity for Stress

Lets look at a simple approach to understanding our capacity for stress. There are two types of stressors, or life pressures:

  1. Predictable stressors. These are the things in life that we can plan. The things that we know will take place. These include monthly bills, job pressures, family obligations, and ministry commitments. Even a move to a new location is stressful, but it’s still predictable.
  2. Unpredictable stressors. These are the things in life that come at unexpected times. A member of your family has a heart attack, or is diagnosed with cancer. Your company is purchased and your job is eliminated. You are on staff at a church and the senior pastor steps down for infidelity.

A Lesson From James

The stressors that we do not see coming and cannot plan for are the ones that may push us over our limit. Our lives are often so busy that we make no allowance for the unexpected stressor. The real danger is in living as if we know all that will come our way tomorrow. The truth is only God knows what the future has in store for us. We are reminded of this in James 4:13-17. He tells the business man not to plan ahead as if next year’s profit was a certainty. He provides this wise advice, “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15).

James directs us back to God for our own benefit. Since we know that unexpected stressors will come, we need to re-embrace our dependence on the Lord. “What must be recognized is that this world is not a closed system; that an influence quite outside the material sphere ultimately determines the success and failure of plans – indeed, the very continuation of life itself.”

(Moo, D. J. (2015). James. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: IVP Academic).

This is a biblical worldview.

Affirming our dependence on the Lord, and accepting a biblical worldview of history, we must do what all successful Christians attempt to do: manage the predictable stressors, but leave enough room in our lives for the unpredictable.

Dr James P Porowski     Licensed Psychologist    Raleigh NC     March 9, 2016