Stress is the condition that occurs when a challenge or threat or perceived challenge or threat forces a person to adjust or adapt. The challenge or threat may be real or imagined. An imagined challenge or threat exerts the same impact as a real challenge or threat. These challenges and threats may be called stressor events for they are the circumstances and conditions that challenge one to adjust or adapt.
In spite of numerous adversities [stressor events] the apostle Paul chose not to become distressed, "we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
What causes distress? Prolonged sin is one cause of distress. The Bible states the fact, "There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek" (Romans 2:9). Again and again, the bible teaches that prolonged sin causes distress (Lamentations 1:20, Zephaniah 1:17).
The Bible illustrates the fact that prolonged sin leads to distress (Genesis 32:6-7). Isaac and Rebekah gave birth to twin sons (Genesis 25:9-16). They named the older son Esau and the younger son Jacob. Isaac favored Esau and Rebekah favored the younger Jacob (Genesis 25:27-28).
It was customary for the father to give a special blessing to the oldest son (Genesis 27:1-4). Rebekah devised a plan for Jacob to steal the blessing from Esau (Genesis 27:5-10). Jacob did as his mother had deviously schemed (Genesis 27:11-17).
During the process, he lied about who he was and about what God had done (Genesis 27:18-20). When Esau discovered that Jacob had stolen his birthright, he prepared to murder him (Genesis 27:410. Rebekah devised a plan of escape for Jacob (Genesis 27:42-46).
Jacob left for Padda-aram and lived there for some twenty years (Genesis 28:5; 31:38, 41). For some twenty years he prolonged his sin against his brother Esau. This prolonged sin caused him much distress, "The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, "We came to your brother Esau, and furthermore he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him." Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies" (Genesis 32:6-7).
Jacob's perceptions were invalid. Esau had forgiven him (Genesis 33:4, 8-10). Nevertheless, Jacob had become distressed as if his perceptions were valid (Genesis 32:6-7). His prolonged sin caused his distress. Make no mistake about it, "What prolonged sin did for Jacob it will also do for you."