“Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” – Luke 5:15-16
How do you cope with stress and pressure? I am finding that most adults have very different mechanisms in place for those times when life becomes too hard to handle. Take my family for instance. For the past couple of weeks, we have been under an extreme amount of stress due to parental illness. And probably like your family, all the siblings gather and try to figure out how to deal with our issues collectively.
One night recently we had such a meeting in our kitchen. As we discussed our plans, I could see the weariness and exhaustion in each of our stances. It had been a tough week. And we all just wanted some relief, if only for a little while.
But then something curious happened. As we began to depart, we each voiced our own need at that particular moment. Each of us had a plan to deal with stress we were feeling.
One was going for a nap (trying to forget about it.) One was going back to work (trying to power through it.) One was going for a run (trying to counteract it.) And I (in an effort to drown it,) began cooking.
It was strange, because I thought all the others were crazy. I mean, who ignores their pain? Who runs from it? Who pretends it isn’t there? Didn’t they all know that eating a delicious meal filled with our favorite comfort foods would make it all better?
So I went to my freezer in search of my treasures – garden fresh vegetables placed there last summer, just waiting for a time when the store-bought kind just aren’t going to cut it. And I cooked and I cooked and then we ate, and guess what? I did feel better. For about an hour. Then I began to worry again. What a waste of some great corn!
I know we all have our places to run. We all have ways of dealing with stress and pain. However, as believers in Christ, we also many times forget that we have the best outlet, the most effective means of ridding ourselves of anxiety – Prayer.
Jesus knew it and He taught us to run to the Father when we needed to talk. He modeled it for us. We think our lives are too hard to handle sometimes. So did He. And time and time again, we see our Savior retreating from the world to solitary places. And every time he was lifting up his heart to the Father.
Why did He do that? Did God always give Him what He wanted? Absolutely not. Did His circumstances change? No. But I believe that something better happened when Jesus spent time in prayer. I believe He was strengthened for the task at hand. I believe He found clarity of thought and a stillness of heart. I believe He experienced the presence of God, and therefore knew that He was not alone.
As you and I travel through this life of stresses and (sometimes) disappointment, I believe the best thing we can learn is that we are never alone. He is always with us. His door is always open and His grace has a lasting effect on us that our remedies do not. There is truly nothing else that can sustain us the way that ongoing communion with Christ can.
May we all learn to make Jesus our first “run to” instead of our last resort.
In the Savior’s name I pray,