Preaching on how our brains process stress

I just sent this note to three scientists from our congregation (in preparation for a sermon on June 2). This is how a science sermon comes together.  Feel free to respond yourself.

“Thanks again for being willing to be a part of this sermon writing process everyone. I just want to confirm our meeting for this Wednesday night at 7:30 pm (note the half hour time change) at the church office. Count on a hour or so for the meeting. 😉

In preparation, I thought I’d send you a summary of what Jackie’s paper was about (prepared by her). As you ponder it’s contents, hold this quote in mind,
“[T]here can be nothing in the universe that fails to express, to incarnate, the revelation of the thought of God. It was not the case that there existed an immeasurable mass of matter that God’s thinking attempted to process, but rather divine thinking is embedded in all created things, and it was primarily this thought of God that prescribes for created things their manner of existence, their form, their principle of life, their destiny and their progress.” (page 39, Wisdom and Wonder, Common Grace in Science & Art, Abraham Kuyper)
And ask yourself two questions,
1. If divine thinking is embedded in the adolescent brain’s stress processing capabilities, what does the specific nature of these capabilities say about how God thinks, about His nature?
2. What biblical stories, or attributes of God come to mind as you consider the answer to question one.
Here’s Jackie’s quote,
“Traumatic or stressful experiences during critical windows of our
lives, such as childhood or adolescence, can profoundly influence how
resilient we will be to the challenges we face later on. Thus, the
goal of my research is to understand how stress is processed by, and
leaves an imprint on our brains, particularly during these sensitive
periods of time. I study a unique brain area called the hypothalamus,
dedicated to regulating the release of stress hormones like cortisol
and adrenaline. Through electrical recordings of rat brain cell
activity and communication, we can examine, with great detail,
mechanisms which govern neural processing of stress. By studying the
brains of adolescent rats, I was able to uncover a brand new way in
which brain cells communicate with one another during stress. I was
able to observe how these cells in the hypothalamus can use substances
– naturally produced versions of the active ingredients painkillers
like morphine (opioids) – as messengers to other brain cells. I found
that opioids are made and released by cells to shut down communication
lines. If you can imagine that during a stressful event, many brain
cells begin to panic and yell at one another,  opioids are used by
these particular cells to lower the volume or hang up the phone so
that neurons don’t become overwhelmed. What does this mean? well,
firstly, these findings help to explain why teenagers might abuse
opiate painkillers as a way of coping with stress. Secondly, it means
that our brains are more sensitive and flexible than we previously
thought or could have imagined.”

Again, thanks for the time and energy,

john