“And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while.”
Mark 6: 31
How To Handle Stress: 5 Lessons from the Life of Jesus
Lesson #1: Take time for separation.
“Separation” – Withdrawn from others.
“Unless there is a still center
in the middle of the storm
unless a person in the midst
of all their activities
preserves a secret room in their
heart where they stand
alone before God, unless we do
this we will lose all
sense of spiritual direction
and be torn to pieces.”
Fourth-Century Desert monk
“It is known to many that we need solitude to find ourselves. Perhaps it is not so well known that we need solitude to find our fellows. Even the Saviour is described as reaching mankind through the wilderness.”
During the past few weeks, I have had so many emails from around the world with one constant theme running through them. The pressure and stress of life is getting to God’s daughters and sons. Whether it is financial, physical, emotional or spiritual crisis that threatens you – trouble is stalking so many people right now. It appears that the enemy is trying with all his might to unravel our families, destroy our homes and wreak our finances.
In the midst of one calamity after another, God’s children are struggling – worn to the bone and stressed to the limit.
This is why I want to interrupt our continual yearly studies about women of the Bible to take a look at the life of Jesus when He was on earth.
If ever anyone had a life filled with potentially stress-filled situations, it was Jesus. With thousands following Him, needing and longing for His attention; with enemies who plotted His demise; and with all the earthly forces of evil targeting Him, we can only begin to imagine the stress that pounded on Jesus everyday of His life on earth.
This is why it is important for us to spend a few days looking at the way Jesus handled the pressure that filled His world. And it is my prayer that through these studies, we’ll be reminded of the power and strength that is ours for the asking.
Throughout Jesus’ life, He spoke so many words that bring comfort and hope to my heart. Here are just a few:
1.) “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matthew 9:2).
This assurance should give hope to the most faint-hearted!
2.) “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (Matthew 14: 27).
Don’t you just love these words? We never need to be afraid
when Jesus is with us!
3,) “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;
nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26: 39).
This was the Son’s acceptance of the pain and separation sin
brought between He and His Father. How grateful you and I should be
for Christ’s willingness to “walk this path alone.”
4.) “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 34).
Only God could forgive His enemies as He was nailed to a cross!
These are just a few of my favorite words, spoken by Jesus. But to this list I want to add our text for today as paraphrased in The Message: “Come off by yourselves, let’s take a break and get a little rest” (Mark 6: 31). After an extended time, with the pressure and demands of ministry surrounding Jesus and His disciples, He looked at His weary followers and said, “We need to get away. Let’s go to a quiet place and rest.”
Isn’t it wonderful to know Jesus understood human frailty! For He also felt the weariness that cries for rest. But what’s more, He felt the burden that causes us to say, “Let me out of this pressure-cooker!”
How about you? What’s your world like right now? I really don’t have to ask
because so many of you have written to me with your prayer needs and as I read each one, my heart aches for the burdens that load down so many lives. Financial woes…family turmoil…personal pain…health problems…and the list goes on. Furthermore, whether we create some of these problems ourselves or whether they come upon us unexpectedly, the result is the same. We’re tired – worn out – frazzled – and left feeling as though we’re at the end of our rope.
In 1941, nearly 70 years ago, Thomas R. Kelly described human living like this:
“Our lives in a modern city grow too complex and overcrowded. Even the necessary obligations which we feel we must meet grow overnight, like Jack’s beanstalk, and before we know it we are bowed down with burdens, crushed under committees, strained, breathless, and hurried, panting through a never-ending program of appointments.”
I remind you, this was written before the era of faxes, cell phones, internet, text messaging, blackberries, TVs and every other piece of electronic wizardry that fills our lives with nuisance and noise. Even our churches aren’t immune to peppering us with an electronic media show that instead of calming our overwrought senses only serves to overload us more!
What you and I need is a separation from noise…from crowds…from commercialism…from work…from busyness! A separation that allows us to get in touch with our Heavenly Father.
In 1950, author Ruth Fry told about a distinguished explorer, who spent a couple of years among the natives of the upper Amazon. On one trip, the group attempted a “forced march through the jungle.” As she wrote, the exploration party made “extraordinary speed for the first two days, but on the third morning when it was time to start, the leader found all the natives sitting down looking very solemn and making no preparations to leave. ‘They are waiting,’ the Chief explained to the explorer, ‘They cannot move farther until their souls have caught up with their bodies.’” Then Ruth Fry asked this question: “Were these men acting on a truth we have forgotten? Is the world in chaos because it has neglected to wait for its soul?”
How about you and me? Are the pooped-out bodies we are pushing to the limit running ahead of our souls? Maybe it’s time we take Jesus’ advice for stress relief and “Come away and rest awhile.” Take some time today to separate yourself, even for a few minutes, from the busyness of the day to rest and reflect. Breathe deep. Look into the heavens. And thank your Father for His gift of rest for your weary soul!
“The desert…is a place of revelation and revolution. In the desert we wait, we weep, we learn to live.”
Clergyman and Author
Turn aside for a while from your ordinary employment.
Put aside your worldly cares.
Let your distractions wait.
Free yourself for a while for God
and rest in Him.
Enter the inner room of your soul,
shut out everything except God
and that which can help you in seeking Him.
And when you have shut the door, seek Him.
Now my whole heart,
say to God
I seek Your face; show me Your face.”
St. Anselm of Canterbury
(1033 – 1109)
Anselm of Canterbury
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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