Far from being a simple salve for the symptoms of stress, this book goes right to the core of the problem. Simon Vibert, vice-principal and director of the School of Preaching at Wycliffe Hall, takes a theological approach to stress. His thesis is that only by realigning our desires and purposes to God’s good plans can we ultimately know relief.
I found the book slow at the start, probably because – like a lot of stressed people – I was looking for a quick fix. Yet I became increasingly impressed with the patience, depth and conviction of Vibert’s analysis. Well-researched and informed by his own personal journey, this is a book with a profound message.
The author’s vulnerability in sharing how he has at times mismanaged his own stress is powerful. He also uses four fictional characters to illustrate the principles being applied: a ‘Type A’, driven personality; a high-flying woman who decided to retrain for a less demanding career; an easy-going, self-employed handyman; and a young working mum. As the arguments and principles are unpacked, the author earths them by showing how applying his teaching might impact each of these people.
There are chapters on worry, anger, ambition and the need for rest. The author also explains the importance of coping with being out of control, not being indispensable, looking after our bodies and being in touch with our emotions.
God is not stressed, and as we move towards his design for our lives we increasingly experience peace. We are able to relax in God’s approval of us in Christ and to develop joy and thankfulness as a way of life. The final chapter encourages us with the great truth that God is for us. Through a reflection on Romans 8, Vibert leaves his readers reassured and hopeful for the future.