Mental tension and pressure have been realities for people since the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve weren't exempt from the demands inherent in the privilege and responsibility of free will. Beginning with them, and flowing through the history of mankind, stress has been a part of our existence. Even babies experience stress when hungry, or a diaper needs changing.
In a conversation several years ago about things detrimental to trees, a friend who is a forester and land appraiser mentioned the Southern pine bark beetle, one of the most destructive insects in our forests. In fact, information found at that time on a University of Georgia website began by saying, "Pine bark beetles are the most destructive insects of pines in Georgia." (www.bugwood.org.caes.uga.edu/gapests/pine_bark_beetles.html) The article further noted that "Since 1962 annual losses from outbreaks have exceeded five million dollars in the State."
Anything that abnormally stresses the pine tree (such as extended droughts, flooding, lightening strikes, and man caused disturbances) promotes the activities of the beetle, leading to the tree's destruction. Extraordinary amounts of timber can be lost in a infestation. That's real stress for those who depend on the trees for their income!
The same is true in human beings when stressed. Things that place high amounts of stress on us can lead to our physical, emotional and spiritual loss. These anxiety producers include a long list of influences, including difficulties in school, marriage and family tensions, work-related obstacles, loss of income. Surprising to many, the prospect of making a public speech remains one of the greatest producers of anxiety. The slate of factors is almost endless!
The question is, what do we do about lessening the effects of stress? It sounds simplistic, but the answer is that we should take Jesus' admonition seriously and stop worrying. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" (Matthew 6:25. Read verses 25-34) Jesus didn't say, and I don't mean to suggest, that this is easy. But it can be done, or he wouldn't have told us to do it. The key is, through communion with God in Bible study, meditation, prayer and other positive influences, to allow God to help us defeat stress. (Ephesus 4:6-7, etc.)
According to my friend, the uninformed landowner often thinks that simply spraying the affected trees with an insecticide will solve the problem. But by the time the infestation kills a tree, the bugs have already left it and moved to others in an ever-spreading circle of destruction. Satan is usually way ahead of us in his efforts to kill and maim. Stress is one of his most effective weapons.
But neither the devil nor stress is stronger than God.