Challenge Necessity

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have her perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach and it will be given him.”  – James 1:2-5


1.  The Bible warns against the health challenges of stress, yet instructs us to “count it all joy when we fall into various trials” or “glory in tribulations”? Is there such a thing as good stress? Or should we avoid stress all together?

2.  Let’s look at a study done by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley

  • An amoeba was introduced into “a perfectly stress-free environment: ideal temperature, optimal concentration of moisture, constant food supply. The amoeba had an environment to which it had to make no adjustment whatsoever. It had no challenges. It didn’t have to work. It had no stress. Yet, oddly enough, it died. Apparently there is something about all living creatures, even amoebas, which demand challenge….comfort alone will kill us.” 1

3.  So some stress or challenge is necessary for life

  • In fact, positive or moderate stress is good for learning as it causes the body to be more alert 2

4.  What are the factors that separate good stress from bad? Negative forms of stress (distress) occur when we:

  • Lack the resources to solve the problem
  • Feel there is not a solution to the problem
  • Have (or feel we have) little or no control over circumstances 3

5. Interestingly, often, in scripture, when we are encouraged to see trials (stress) as a good thing, we are also reminded of the resources at hand or the hopeful outcome of the stressor

  • James 1:2-5 (count it all joy…if you lack wisdom ask of God Who gives liberally without reproach)
  • Romans 5:2-5 (glory in tribulation…now hope does not disappoint…)


  1. Cited from: Parrott, Les, PhD. 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice (page 58)
  2. Peterson, Chris. “Optimism and By-pass Surgery,” in Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control (1993)
  3. Parrott, Les, PhD. 3 Seconds: The Power of Thinking Twice, Peterson, Chris. “Optimism and By-pass Surgery,” in Learned Helplessness: A Theory for the Age of Personal Control (1993)