POINTS TO PONDER

Whenever we hear the news about a pending flood or drought conditions, a hurricane or tornado warning, possible recession or inflation, we also hear a lot about being prepared for another danger or catastrophe. But it isn’t always the weather, stock market, or salmonella in food, it can also be about what we see others doing or their behavior that may bring them or us difficulties we must cope with.

In psychology, preparedness is a concept developed to explain why specific connections are adopted more readily than others. For example, the theory states that people who learned to fear threats faster had a greater survival rate. Psychologist Martin Seligman’s preparedness theory of phobias implies that fear-relevant stimuli cause us to pay attention to safety signals advising preparation. This means it should be challenging to establish a fear-relevant motivation as a safety signal in nonphobic subjects. Preparedness also points to one’s tendency to learn some connections more easily, quickly, and permanently than others.

Social Psychologist Danielle Every explains that psychological preparedness is a “state of awareness, anticipation, and readiness – an internal, primed capacity to anticipate and manage one’s psychological response in an emergency.” Psychological preparedness is not necessarily about removing feelings of anxiety or stress, as these may be adaptive, but in learning to anticipate, recognize and manage these effectively. 

But there is another aspect to preparedness. Although psychologists do not offer therapy at disaster sites, they can help people build upon their internal strengths to begin recovering from the disaster. Psychologists help those in disastrous circumstances develop their resilience skills to move from feeling hopeless to having a more long-term, realistic perspective. This process can include taking small steps toward concrete goals and connecting with others as they learn to cope with a disaster’s logistical and emotional challenges.

Dr. Juliet Roudini at the Charitē Universitätsmedizin, and Hamid Reza Khankeh of the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Berlin, Germany, tells us that disaster mental health preparedness is an effective reduction method to protect individuals from detrimental psychological effects arising from unexpected natural disasters. And the results of an investigation by Evelin Witruk in Leipzig, University, Germany, show that people with a strong belief in a just world believe the hazards to be a result of human failure, and this belief is an essential factor when dealing with natural disasters.

Furthermore, Psychologists in Australia point out that we should think about how we usually react to highly stressful situations? Although these reactions are very natural, they can get in the way of other necessary preparations. If you understand your usual reactions, you can learn ways to manage them better when they happen. How you feel in highly stressful situations is strongly affected by how you cope with the physical signs of anxiety and the thoughts running through your head. In dangerous situations, our physical and emotional responses are called “fight or flight.” That is, you either fight for your life or run for your life.

But what about family and personal relationships with others? An online survey by the American Psychological Association conducted by Harris Interactive found that 73% of parents report family responsibilities as a significant source of stress. The survey also found that more than two-thirds of parents think their stress level has slight to no impact on their child’s stress level. However, only 14% of pre-teens and teens reported not being bothered when their parent is stressed.

Furthermore, the connection between high-stress levels and health is alarming, with 34% of obese parents experiencing high-stress levels (defined as an 8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point scale) compared to 23% of normal-weight parents. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the way a parent’s stress and corresponding unhealthy behaviors affect the family. For example, the APA survey found that parents who are obese are more likely than those who are average weight to have children who are obese. In addition, overweight children are more likely than normal-weight children to report that their parents are often worried and stressed.

Children model their parents’ behaviors, including those related to managing stress. Parents who deal with stress in unhealthy ways risk passing those behaviors on to their children. Alternatively, parents who cope with stress in healthy ways can promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves and promote the formation of critically important habits and skills in children. Parents know that changing a child’s behavior can be challenging, let alone their own. By taking small, manageable steps to a healthier lifestyle, families can work toward meeting their goals to be psychologically and physically fit. It certainly points to the need for preparedness on our part to successfully cope with these situations.

But as Christians, what does the Bible have to say about preparedness? King Solomon offered an example of what it means to be prepared. He told those who showed no concern over pending hardships that they should watch what the ants do and learn from them. Ants have no ruler, no boss, and no leader. But in the summer, ants gather all of their food and save it. So, when winter comes, there is plenty to eat.[1] Then Solomon goes on to point out that a wise person foresees the difficulties ahead and prepares for them; the uninformed goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

Also, the Apostle Paul, speaking from experience, told believers in Corinth to be prepared. Hold firmly to your faith. Have courage and be strong.[2] And the Apostle Peter urged his readers always to be prepared to answer everyone who asks them to explain their hope.[3]

But for Christians, there is an even more important need for preparedness when it comes to what our Lord Jesus said. Again, the author of the Book of Hebrews gives an illustration. He wrote that God warned Noah about things he could not yet see. But he had faith and respect for God, so he built a large boat to save his family. With his dedication, Noah showed that the world was wrong. And he became one of those who are made right with God through faith.[4] The only reason Noah and his family survived the great flood is that he was prepared.

The same is true of another unannounced event on the horizon. Jesus said that the whole world, earth, and sky, would be destroyed, but His words will last forever. No one knows when that day or time will be. The Son and the angels in heaven don’t know when it will be. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man comes, it will be the same as what happened during Noah’s time. In those days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving their children to be married right up to the day Noah entered the boat. 39 They knew nothing about what was happening until the flood came and destroyed them all. So be prepared, said Jesus, for you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Just as an individual can prevent trouble from thieves by keeping watch for them, you can avoid trouble by always being prepared for My unannounced arrival. So, stay awake and be prepared, for you do not know the date or moment it will happen.[5]


[1] Proverbs 6:6-8

[2] 1 Corinthians 16:13

[3] 1 Peter 3:15

[4] Hebrews 11:7

[5] Matthew 24:35-39; 25:13

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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