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A blog dedicated to the Source of everything good.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Temptations during times of stress

Not long after the devastating tsunamis occurred, an article appeared in Christianity Today entitled “Temptations in Disaster.” It describes struggles that challenge rescue workers. These are concerns we should all add to our prayer lists, and I appreciate the article’s honesty very much.

From the article:
During times of disaster, we push ourselves beyond what is healthy for us. That is inevitable. But there is a limit to what our bodies and minds can tolerate. We need to take care and don't neglect the basics of life, physical or spiritual.

– Sleep is a basic human need, and if we deprive ourselves of it for too long there will be serious long-term consequences.

– During emergency times, how easy it is to neglect our families. It must not be done for too long. Family ties are such that they need constant nurture. They must never be taken for granted. It is no secret that a high percentage of married emergency aid workers have (or had) stormy marriages. This is a discipline to cultivate: To be busy, but never to give our families the hint that they are not important to us. Families need to meet and talk about the challenges they face. (emphasis added)

– Closely related to care of family is the chaos caused within our emotional lives by trauma.

I realized, as I read this article, that the temptations listed are ones faced by anyone in a high-stress or traumatic situation, whether outwardly- or self-imposed. Anything that shakes us up causes some degree of chaos within our emotional lives. Many of us push ourselves beyond what is healthy even when not dealing with disaster in one form or another; this also sets us up for temptation.

Disaster rescue workers aren’t the only individuals whose temptations are underappreciated; all of us, at some point in our lives, go through periods of extreme trial. During these times, we need help to stay grounded. We need the help of family members, friends, and perhaps also our churches and our neighbors.

Note that the help needed in these situations goes beyond basic physical needs to needs of the mind, heart, soul, and spirit (or to both together). How can we, the Body of Christ both inside and outside of the Church, minister to these needs? Obviously, the first step is to get to know one another, really and truly. This involves both reaching out and willingness to be open with one another. The extent of this sort of closeness will vary, of course, depending on many factors. But that deeply caring, accountability relationship is the kind that is needed.

The other necessity is a willingness to step outside of one’s comfort zone. Women, are you willing to take your friend’s baby all night so she can get some desperately-needed sleep (that is, if you’re able)? Men, are you willing to readjust personal priorities in order to help someone?

People like Mother Teresa have shown us that anyone who wants to do crisis ministry long term must have a healthy devotional life...God has built into our systems a rhythm of life that we must not violate: output and input; work and rest (Sabbath, vacation); service and worship; community activity, family activity, and solitude. Yet it is so easy at a time like this to neglect some of the less active disciplines in this list.

This is something that I personally need to be reminded of. It’s easy to think that when an overwhelming burden is upon us, we must “rise to the occasion.” That if our Lord does not give us more than we can bear, then we will get the “Holy Spirit power” we need to perform the seemingly extra-human simply by choosing the proper attitude . I’m not sure this is how it’s supposed to work, however.

I do not know why it is, but it seems that absorption in social emergencies often reduces one's cutting edge in personal morality. Otherwise good aid workers will use aid money indiscriminately and commit fraud...Does absorption with social morality often result in the neglect of personal morality? It seems to be so...Perhaps, because we find it so difficult to be rounded individuals, when we concentrate on one aspect of life we tend neglect the other. Lethargy often hits busy people and they neglect their personal life.

Absorption in any concern or cause, no matter how noble, obviously must never consume to the point of neglect of one’s more immediate responsibilities, including responsibility to one’s own “house.” But, are we always clear on where to draw the line? How can we gain clarity? Yes we can read Scripture, pray, and listen to conscience, but sometimes we also need people who are close enough to us to have a picture of our lives to pray for us/advise us accordingly.
We should follow the same principles of personal spiritual and financial accountability that we adopt in ordinary life during emergency situations too...How sad that many Christians today have no one to whom they are spiritually accountable. No one who asks them about their family life, their professional life, their devotional life, their money spending and their sexual purity...May those on the field be checked by the knowledge that they will have to report about their behavior to someone.

How sad that for many of us, the humiliation of sharing with another human being is a greater deterrent to sin that the knowledge that the absolutely holy God sees what we do.

The trouble is, in many of these areas, it goes beyond humiliation, or shyness, to privacy/boundary issues. There are some things you just don’t talk to other people about...or do you? There are as many different opinions on what’s appropriate to share as there are people. This can be a real obstacle to accountability, however.

Why is it that people who are under duress become more lax morally? Might it be related to the fact that one’s sense of security, or set of beliefs upon which one has built one’s sense of security, gets rocked in an extreme situation? Might it seem like all the “rules” have gone out the window? Might desperation cause confusion and recklessness? Might it seem like morality doesn’t matter in the face of a situation that may lead one to feel as though one’s desires, hopes, loves, concerns don’t matter? (I.e., if what matters to me doesn’t matter, then nothing else really matters) Yes, this is a self-centered view, but then extreme situations rouse the survival instinct, which is naturally an inwardly-focused thing.

Let's face it. We are weak people who often act like idiots. May we find ways of keeping our lives pure that takes into account our folly and irrationality. If we are such fools as to act as if exposure to humans is scarier than exposure to God, at least may the prospect of exposure to humans keep us from sin.

Obviously, we need solid individuals to not only help us meet our basic human needs but to help draw us out of ourselves and remind us of the eternal truths upon which our existence is based. Temptation focuses us on ourselves and our own gratification (or salvation); redemption reminds us of where salvation truly lies and gives us strength to rely on and trust in God Himself.


  • Excellent. Your thoughts will be included in my Sunday lesson to my church's youth group tomorrow!

    By Blogger The Hedgehog, at 10:35 AM  

  • Thank you! Once again, I am honored. I'm glad to have provided something of use. Let me know of any feedback or discussion from your lesson.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 11:15 PM  

  • Good post Bonnie. Something an introvert like me needs to hear (and apply).

    By Blogger Rusty, at 12:14 PM  

  • temptations are not good specially with stress the stress can make u do stupid thinks that is right im my case i lost my girlfriend cause i couldnt control the stress .

    By Anonymous viagra online, at 3:30 PM  

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