Do you ever feel like you’re drowning? In March, 40% of Americans reported that they were scared of getting the virus. In June, that number had risen to 60% (Covid-19 Tracker). Not surprisingly, those with pre-existing mental health issues are reporting even higher rates of fear and anxiety. Sheltering could wipe out a significant portion of our most vulnerable population. How did Jesus deal with overwhelming stress?
12 Jesus Habits for Coping with Stress
Jesus came to earth to accomplish the most difficult mission in human history. At one point, he was attacked by the most powerful political forces of his day. He couldn’t go out in public. He couldn’t see his family. He was forced into exile. How did he cope?
Jesus modeled at least twelve coping skills in dealing with stress.
1. Wake up early and start your day with God
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mk. 1:35).
Your morning routine is critical for getting ahead of your day. Leaving yourself plenty of time to get to work or morning appointments creates space for you to relax.
You can CLICK HERE to try a 60-Day Quiet Time with God Challenge. It’s designed to help you form an ingrained habit of starting your day with God.
2. Look at interruptions as divine appointments.
“Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you” (Lk. 8:45).
Jesus was on his way to heal a little girl who was severely ill. She didn’t have long to live. Time was critical. Jesus was understandably in a hurry when a woman snuck up behind him and touched the tassels on the edge of his rabbinical shawl.
Jesus stopped immediately. He knew that someone had been healed by his touch. He wanted to know who. He wanted to meet her.
Jesus was willing to take the interruption as a positive. He often saw interruptions as potential divine appointments — not what he had planned — but, what God had planned.
3. Say “No” as often as you can
Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mk. 1:38).
Jesus went AWOL. No one could find him. When his disciples finally found him they were a bit frustrated. There were hundreds of people looking for Jesus. So many needed his healing touch. But, Jesus said, “No.” That is not why I am here.
Jesus said, “No” to a good thing so that he could say “Yes” to the best thing.
Your “No” today opens the door for your “Yes” tomorrow. It also declutters your life, giving you more energy for the most important moments.
4. Set priorities
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:51).
Jesus knew that certain death awaited him in Jerusalem. He also knew that suffering was a part of his God-ordained future. In spite of all the warning signs, the constant pressure from family and friends, and the innate human desire to stay alive, Jesus forged on toward Jerusalem … and the cross.
The Greek words literally say, “He set his face toward Jerusalem.” He didn’t let anything deter him from his number one priority — to die for our sins. A life without priorities is a life without direction or impact.
5. Find Support from others.
Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Mt. 26:38).
Jesus, under the cover of darkness, took his closest friends to his favorite place — the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the night before his crucifixion. He knew the horror that awaited him with the break of dawn.
Jesus was terrified. He asked his closest friends to bear it with him. They could do nothing to shield him from what lay ahead. Jesus knew that, but he still wanted them with him. He didn’t want to be alone. And neither should you.
6. Believe in yourself.
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6).
By the end of his life, Jesus had a strong understanding of who he was. He knew his story.
His mother told him the stories of angels at his birth. He heard his heavenly Father confirm it at his baptism. The miracles — walking on water, calming storms, raising the dead — all pointed to his origins. Even the demons responded to his presence by proclaiming Jesus’ true identity.
Jesus knew with certainty that had come from the Father for a purpose, and once that mission was completed, he would return to the Father.
Once you know who you belong to and who you are, the rest of your life can be lived with the utmost confidence in who you need to be and what you need to do.
7. Don’t pretend to know all the answers.
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mt. 24:36).
His disciples asked him — “When is the end of the world?” And Jesus said, “I don’t know.” Wow! There was something Jesus didn’t know. Isn’t that a relief?
You don’t need to feel like you should have all the answers. Or, that you have to always be right. It is a stressful and heavy burden to always have to be right.
Take a load off your chest — admit it — sometimes you get it wrong. Was that so hard?
You don’t always know what to do on the first try. Is that a sin? Obviously, it’s not a sin to not have all the answers. Jesus didn’t.
Think about it this way — Not knowing something gives someone else a chance to shine!
8. Invest your energy in the present.
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother” (Jn. 19:26-27).
Jesus was hanging from the cross in excruciating pain when he looked down and saw his mother. It seems unbelievable that at that moment he could be present enough to think about providing for her. His thoughts were not for his own agony, but for the future care of his mother.
Jesus was always present to the people he touched. No one knew this better than his mother.
9. Enjoy some time alone.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Lk. 5:16).
Jesus was in high demand. He had the ability to heal the sick. He gave sight to a man born blind. He raised the dead back to life. Any person who could do those things would be crushed under the weight of the world’s frantic demands. This is the reason Jesus had to get away. Regularly. No exceptions.
Jesus reminded his disciples that the Sabbath was made for man, not the other way around. Don’t let the clock rule you. Jesus loved his downtime alone.
10. Let yourself cry if you need to.
Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:35).
Jesus stood at the grave of one of his best friends. He saw all of his friends crying. He was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” (Jn. 11:34b). So, he cried.
Jesus was feeling so many things at the same time. So, he cried. If Jesus could do it, so can you.
11. Hang out with little children every once in a while.
He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” … And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them. (Mk. 10:14, 16).
Little children have a fresh and delightful view of life. They are not yet weighed down by the pressures of life. They look at life from a sweet and innocent perspective. They have not yet lost the power of simple faith.
Children tend to speak the embarrassing truth without hesitation — “… wisdom is proved right by all her children” (Lk. 7:35).
A child’s delight in the mystery of God is pure — “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise.” (Mt. 21:16).
Spend time with your kids (or grandkids). It will peel off several layers of stress.
12. Spend time with your friends and family.
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples” (Mt. 9:10).
Jesus loved to be with his friends. The community he was building was centered on the fellowship meal. In his culture, breaking bread was a sign of friendship and a committed association. In many eastern religions, the fellowship meal is a symbol of entrance into the community.
Spending time with his family and friends was so vital to his life that he made it a requirement for entrance into the Jesus community!
There they are! Jesus’ twelve habits for coping with stress.
He himself bore our sins …” (1 Peter 2:24).
Jesus endured more stress than any of us will ever know. Fortunately, he taught us how to do it.