>>Are You Stressed?
Everybody has stress—even Christians. It is a natural part of life. We can’t always make the cause go away immediately, but we can learn to deal with it so it doesn’t overwhelm us.
“People tend to think that if they were more spiritual, they wouldn’t have stress,” says Dr. Mitch Duininck, “but that’s not true. The Bible tells us that in this world we’re going to have tribulation (John 16:33). Even Jesus had stress, but He dealt with it in a healthy way.”
Causes of Stress
According to Dr. Duininck, any transition in a person’s life causes stress. Changes in job status, financial security, or health, along with births, deaths, and other family issues—whether good or bad—all result in pressure and strain that affect our well-being.
“These outer stresses are often compounded by a person’s internal stresses—like the fear of man, chronic disappointment, and the need to control,” says Dr. Duininck.
Pressure from people, job demands, and financial trouble can all cause stress. One of the biggest stress
inducers is a perfectionist mentality.
“Instead of reaching for excellence, many Christians expect perfection from themselves and other people,” says Dr. Duininck. “Sometimes we have such high expectations for ourselves and the people we live with that those expectations are unattainable. So we go through life stressed and disappointed, because life is always less than we expect.”
Pros and Cons of Stress
A certain amount of stress can actually be helpful. Stress causes a state of hyperalertness—the brain goes into high gear and the senses become clear and focused. Dr. Duininck says that stress in situations like public speaking and sports competition “can actually improve your performance.”
Chronic stress, however, can lead to a host of problems, both emotional and physical. Depression, withdrawal from people, general lethargy, paranoia, heart palpitations, restlessness, insomnia, change in appetite, weight gain, muscle and joint pain, stomach aches, rashes, and lack of sexual drive are just some of the effects.
“Chronic stress is like turning up the idle screw on a car,” he says, “so the car is always running at high rpm’s. You can go fast and get a lot done, but eventually it becomes hard on the car. When we live at that heightened level of stress, it’s just not healthy for our bodies.”
Dr. Duininck says it’s imperative that Christians, and especially ministers, find healthy ways to handle stress. “God has made provision to deal with those challenges of life,” Duininck says, “The prescription is there, but we have to take advantage of it.”
Mitchell W. Duininck, M.D., practices at Family Medical Care of Tulsa in Oklahoma. He is the program director of In His Image, a Tulsa-based organization offering a family medicine residency program and international and mobile medical missions, and he has led several disaster relief trips overseas. Dr. Duininck graduated from the ORU School of Medicine. He is a brother of Joe Duininck, RHEMA Missions Director.