This study on stress is in no way complete but is still useful and timely. I hope it helps readers navigate the stress of these trying times.
Hebrew words for “distress”.
- צר – path of the mind – THOUGHT
- צק – path snatched up – CONCLUDE, CONCEDE, END
- קצ – snatched up path – POUR, CAST, IMAGE
- נפש – source of gradually gathered pressure – SUPPRESSION or APPREHENSION as in self-suppression.
Illustrations of distress (i.e. Stress):
The primary word translated as distress in the Bible is (צר) tsar, literally meaning thought.
It’s demonstrated in Gen 32:7 when Jacob is preparing to see his brother Esau, who wanted to kill him last he knew.
Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed: and he divided the people that was with him, and the flocks, and herds, and the camels, into two bands; And said, If Esau come to the one company, and smite it, then the other company which is left shall escape. – Gen 32:7- 8 KJV
• Here, replace distressed with thought.
• In response to his fear, Jacob thought that he would divide up his family so that at least some of them could escape should his brother attack them. In the beginning of Genesis 33, you can see where he acted on that thought and did exactly that.
- What we call stress is our thoughts concerning potentially undesirable outcomes.
- These thoughts are normal and necessary.
- Jacob’s thought helped Jacob prepare for a potentially fatal outcome and afforded him the courage to reconcile with his brother as was and is required by Hebrew custom and law. (see Matthew 5:24)
- Use stress thoughts as a cue to remind you that some action must be DONE to realign you to God and your flesh to your spirit. Jacob, feared, thought (stressed), and took action that ended his stress.
- Surely Jacob’s stress about he and Esau’s dysfunctional relationship is what prompted him to try to reconcile with his brother in the first place. By acting on those thoughts, he brought worry and stress to its natural conclusion.
Think of a time when you thought of a way past a difficult situation. Did you act on the thought or ignore it? Did someone else’s ideas dissuade you from acting on the thought? How did taking action affect your stress levels?
In the same story we see the Hebrew word, נגש) ( nagesh. In Gen 33:6-7, the mother’s of Jacob’s children are said to nagesh as they approached Esau.
6 Then the handmaidens came near, they and their children, and they bowed themselves. 7 And Leah also with her children came near, and bowed themselves: and after came Joseph near and Rachel, and they bowed themselves. – Gen 33:6-7 KJV
• In these verses nagesh is translated “came near” but in Exodus, it’s translated “taskmasters”, in 1 Samuel, “distress” and in most other places, “oppress”.
• In this context, the women of Jacob’s house approached Esau apprehensively. That is, they suppressed themselves in hopes of not being attacked by Esau’s people.
- Although this word isn’t stress, it is related to stress in that
a. suppression of one’s self can be a way to cope with stressful situations, as we saw with the women of Jacob’s house.
b. And being suppressed, oppressed, or repressed can trigger stress responses.
C. Even the expectation of or potential for suppression by others is a stressor while not yet realized.
Think of a time when you suppressed yourself to avoid an undesirable outcome. Did it make you feel more or less stressed about the situation?
The second word most frequently translated to distress is צק. It’s meaning is demonstrated in Deuteronomy 28.
And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall
distress thee: – Deu 28:53 KJV
• The underlined words all derive from the two root words were discussing, tsar (צר) and tsaq צק)).
• Replace the underlined section as follows:
o in thoughtlessness (from/non thought/tsar), and in imagelessness (from/non image/tsaq), whereby your enemies cause your image (tsaq).
- To be without thought and an image is to be in a liquid state vulnerable to others (particularly, your enemies) to be poured into a cast of their choosing.
- Thoughtlessness and imagelessness lead to Godlessness and madness. The purpose of Torah (teachings), laws, customs, etc. Is to help us maintain our thoughts and image as children of the Most High.
If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, YAHUAH THY GOD; – Deu 28:58 KJV
- This isn’t stress, but a key point as to how we must navigate stress… With our own Hebraic, Godly thought processes in the image given to us by Yahuah, not by the one given to us by our enemies.
Think about your stressor. Which ones are the result of being cast in an image that is not your own? Think of a specific stress you regularly deal with that would not exist if pressure from the outside world did not exist.
Another word translated “distress” is (קצ), meaning cut, end, conclude, or concede. In Numbers 22:3, Moab conceded after seeming how Israel defeated the Amorites.
And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel. – Num 22:3 KJV
• Now replace “was distressed” with conceded. If you read further, you’ll see that Moab accepted defeat before Israel even declared war on his people. He declared that he had already lost the battle before it began.
- Like self-suppression, conceding is a coping mechanism for dealing with stressful situations. Moab decided he was defeated before there was ever a war to avoid the outcome he was sure would happen.
- Be sure that conceding will indeed give you the results you seek (i.e. stress relief)
- If the choice you make only leads to more stress, you’ve made the wrong choice. Think about Moab. If he conceded than remained stressed about being defeated by Israel or some other nation, than his concession was in vane because the stressor is still active and will continue to haunt him until he makes the decision right for him.
- If the point of giving up or giving in is to cope with stress, it should at least fulfill that purpose.
Therefore, I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? – Matthew 6:25
Think of a time when you gave up or gave in to avoid feeling stressed. Did it create other stressful thoughts or did it eliminate the stressful thoughts?
- Stress happens in the mental and spiritual realm and must be quenched by physical action.
- Take physical action in response to stressful thoughts.
- Use stress as a signal to DO something about the conditions that cause you stress.
- If conceding or self-suppression leaves you stressed or creates greater stress, find a different action to take and take it.
- Positive thinking will not disarm stressful thinking, physical action will.
- Think of stress as your spirit telling your flesh to physically move in the direction of your God-given identity. The only way to quiet the spirit on that topic will be to DO what needs to be DONE.
- Take inventory of stressful thoughts and write them down.
- Identify a course of ACTION or ACTION plan for each thought.
- Take ONE action each time the stressful thoughts resurface to quench the stress until it meet its natural end.