Continued from here.
All of us have experienced both stress and fear in our lives. Jesus joined us in experiencing stress but not fear. What can we learn from Jesus’ example to avoid sliding down the slippery slope from stress into fear?
When faced with the most stressful situation of his life, the first thing Jesus did was withdraw to a quiet place and encourage his closest friends to pray:
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation’” (Luke 22:39-40).
Interestingly, he did not ask them to pray for him but to “keep watch” while he prayed. They failed to do so, and he chastised them, not for letting him down but because they were vulnerable to falling into temptation. When we are stressed, we need to think about others and not just ourselves.
The second thing Jesus did was make the determination to obey God, no matter the cost:
He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him” (Luke 22:41-43).
Note that his willingness to obey God, no matter the cost, led to supernatural strengthening.
The third thing Jesus did after experiencing supernatural strengthening was to engage in even more earnest prayer:
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).
Jesus did not take a Xanax, get drunk, or engage in other ways to escape the temptation to fear. Instead, he faced his fear head-on through prayer. The greater the stress (temptation to fear), the more earnestly he prayed … so much so that his body experienced a physical reaction. This wasn’t a simple five-minute prayer in his head. He threw everything he had – heart, mind, and soul – into his earnest prayer. He set his heart, mind, and soul on following God no matter the cost, and as his determination collided with his temptation to fear, his body expressed the collision through sweating blood. If we want to walk in victory over our fear, we must throw everything we have into the fight as we ask God to help us push through the stress into obedience.
What was the end result? When the people came to arrest Jesus, he was not fearful. Instead, he was so filled with God’s power that when he first spoke to his captors, they “drew back and fell to the ground!”
To be continued…
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace praying next to large emoticon hands in prayer. Courtesy Bitmoji.]