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1. Name the problem
Biblical characters, on occasion, are described as enduring extreme stress. For example, Elijah experienced sheer exhaustion after the Mount Carmel event (1 Kings 19). Also, Jeremiah’s outburst, claiming that at one point in his ministry he had enough and was near to breaking point (Jeremiah 20) illustrates the intensity of this experience: ‘Cursed be the day on which I was born. The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, “A son is born to you…”‘.
In the New Testament record, Jesus is depicted as undergoing deep agony on the Mount of Olives prior to his arrest, and he begs his Father, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup (of suffering) pass from me…’ Also, Paul indicates by letter the sufferings he and his missionary companions had experienced in Asia:’… for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death…’
While there are examples of biblical figures who apparently had no hesitation about articulating to God, and to others, areas of stress, modern Christians are often reticent to do the same. yet basic to all endeavors to cope with stress is the willingness to ‘own’ the stress: to recognize it with or without the help of others, and to express it in some way. To be able to name the problem is a significant undergirding factor which predisposes to healthy coping behavior.