Jesus our Model for Stress Management
John 14:27 (ESV) “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Jesus gave us peace. What kind of peace? Don’t miss this. He gave us HIS peace. What kind of peace did Jesus have?
Matthew 26:36-38 “Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’”
Jesus did feel overwhelmed and had great sorrow “to the point of death.” Well what kind of peace did he have then? Isn’t peace a calm serenity and tranquility? Our worldly view of peace is not exactly what God promised.
Jesus prayed three times to avoid the pain he knew was coming but in those same three prayers he asked for God’s will to be done. His peace came in trusting submission to God’s will. He never fell apart. He never lashed out in anger. He never prompted others to retaliate on his behalf. He was at peace knowing that while circumstances would be difficult, God would be glorified and a greater purpose would be served. How he obeyed, reacted, trusted, loved, and forgave said everything about his kind of peace. He never had turmoil. He reacted rationally, thoughtfully, lovingly.
1 Peter 2:23 (NIV) “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
Much can be learned from Jesus’ experience with arguably the most stressful experience of his life. By evaluating his actions, we can learn how to process stress in our own lives.
Let’s look at how Jesus handled stress.
1. He socialized. When he knew a stressful situation was near, he took the time to be with the people he loved. Strengthening his relationships and fellowshipping with his brothers no doubt was a source of strength. Matthew 26:18 said he “celebrated.” He also took this time to prepare his brothers for what was to come. When stress comes, we can withdraw from others and certainly avoid planning a party. Why then didn’t Jesus? He saw the value in eating a meal and sharing quality time with his dearest friends. He used this time to reflect as well as plan for the future. He sang (Matt. 26:30) and relaxed (Matt. 26:20) knowing that he would be arrested within hours. What might we learn from his example?
2. He asked for support. Jesus asked his friends to be with him. He didn’t go off alone, like he had many times to pray in solitude (Matthew 1:35). Instead, he asked Peter, James, and John to join him. He knew he didn’t want to be alone and wasn’t afraid or ashamed to ask his inner circle to be close to him. Emulate Jesus by reaching out to others when you need support. It is possible they will disappoint you. More than likely though, when it gets tough they will have your back.
3. He prayed transparently. God already knew how difficult this would be for Jesus but Jesus didn’t hold back in his prayer. He asked for God to spare him this cup. He asked three times. Matthew says he prayed, “face down” submitting himself in humility to God’s will for his life. Sometimes life’s stress can feel like bitter agony. In these moments it is all we can do to cry out, reaching out of the darkness to what we know by faith is God’s sovereign power and authority over all our life and circumstances.
4. He remained silent. To say that he was dealing with difficult, humbling, and painful
circumstances is an understatement. He was directly questioned, abused, and ridiculed; yet for the most part, he remained silent. He was in complete control over his tongue. Sometimes we use stress as an excuse to lash out to others. Sometimes we may feel justified in our own defense but who was more justified than the son of God; still he did not speak. Remember peace comes by humbly submitting ourselves to God’s will while conducting ourselves in the most Christ-like manner. Words unspoken are seldom regretted.
5. He forgave. How much of your stress is the result of other’s painful actions? Jesus hung on the cross after being tortured for a crime he didn’t commit. His claims were true, he was God’s son though those he was sent to save didn’t accept him (John 3:19). Yet Jesus forgave others, despite his pain, disappointment, and abandonment. He cried out, “Father forgive them.” Forgiveness is essential for eliminating stress from your life and claiming peace. Are there those in your life who have wronged you? Forgive them, even if they don’t ask for it or in your estimation, deserve it. Who could have ever been wronged more than our own Savior yet he not only forgave but he audibly released those nearby through their hearing his cry. What an example!!
Common effects of stress ...
... On your body
- Muscle tension or pain
- Chest pain
- Change in sex drive
- Stomach upset
- Sleep problems
... On your mood
- Lack of motivation or focus
- Irritability or anger
- Sadness or depression
... On your behavior
- Overeating or under-eating
- Angry outbursts
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Tobacco use
- Social withdrawal
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Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV) "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."