I recently went through a pretty traumatic health scare. After four months of no cycle, I began to hemorrhage. At first, I thought it was no big deal. But after week three started with a vengeance, I admittedly began to worry.
My OBGYN immediately went to something I hadn’t even considered: cancer. Her suspicions were so high, in fact, that within less than ten days, I’d had two endometrial biopsies, ultrasounds and was immediately placed on high levels of hormones to stop the bleeding.
Fortunately, I was lucky. It wasn’t cancer. Though, there was still a problem that needed to be addressed. It was stress.
I thought I had been dealing with everything pretty okay. But my body clearly knew otherwise. It had quite literally gone into ‘survival mode’ and was doing everything it could to prevent a pregnancy. I thought I was doing okay. But ironically my body knew better.
None of us are immune to stress. And Jesus Himself told us ahead of time that we’d face troubles (John 16:33). But the ongoing challenge for so many of us—myself obviously included—is how exactly to manage it so that it doesn’t manage us.
I started revisiting the Gospels like old friends, finding comfort in the words I already knew so well. But something else started to take me by surprise. Suddenly, Jesus was far more emotive than I’d ever realized before. Christ showed a veritable rainbow of emotions. He experienced anger (Mark 3:5). He grieved and wept (Luke 19:41-44). He was indignant (Mark 10:14). Jesus even became ‘greatly distressed and troubled’ (Mark 14:33 ESV). I was most certainly not alone in the clutter of emotional chaos I was currently wading in.
As I continued to read, I realized that there was (not surprisingly) a massive difference in how Jesus reacted versus how I had been trying to manage things too. Jesus didn’t stuff His emotions and distress down inside Himself. Instead, He ran to and poured out His heart to the Father time and time again (Luke 5:16). Jesus wasn’t afraid to ask the Father to make things easier, either. In fact, He asked this three separate times (Matthew 26:36-44). Yet no matter what, Jesus always sought to fulfill the Father’s will (Matthew 26:42).
It can be so much easier to appreciate the divine nature of Christ than it can be to identify with His human side. But it’s in doing the latter that we can truly take a cue from Him and discover (exactly) how to manage our emotional lives—including stress—in ways that align with the Father’s will. We truly can experience the gift of God’s peace no matter what our circumstance. But it doesn’t just happen. We have to, first, accept the gift by going to God in prayer so that we can receive it.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
- What is your natural tendency when feeling overwhelmed or stressed out?
- Are there specific triggers that you can use as cues to go to Jesus in prayer rather than succumb to the stress?
- God knows those who take refuge in Him (Nahum 1:7b). How can choosing to run to the Father like Jesus did strengthen your personal relationship with God?
How grateful I am for the gift of Your Word and the example You set for me. I know I can run to God for help because You demonstrated this first. Help me as I strive to practice humility in asking for Your help at all times and in all things. In Your Name, Amen.