It gets more difficult to cope with each passing day of “shelter-in-place.” The challenges of loss of income, the painful inaccessibility to mental health professionals, the strain of a difficult marriage, the exacerbation of online public education — all these and so much more are creating a seething caldron of anxiety and desperation. Most are happy just to keep their sanity. How would Jesus face the mental and emotional ramifications of this pandemic?
Jesus and the Mountain
Obstacles are a part of life. That’s certainly true int 2020, but it was no less true in the First-Century world of Jesus.
Every generation has faced their share of struggles, and in each generation, there has been a temptation to become paralyzed by them.
Planning and working toward solutions is a part of being a capable and responsible adult. However, equally important is the ability to find peace in the midst of the battle to overcome your obstacles.
Jesus had a calm that allowed him to take on any mountain.
Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt … you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done” (Matt. 21:21).
Five Strategies to Find Peace
What did Jesus do when facing overwhelming obstacles? Jesus used at least five strategies to find peace when facing his biggest challenges.
1. Strategic Retreat
Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it …” (Mark 7:24)
Jesus had been through a rough month or so. He was rejected by the village where he grew up. He discovered that he was on King Herod’s hit list. He had a particularly contentious confrontation with a group of Pharisees.
Jesus was exhausted. His solution? He connected with his disciples and took a road trip. He left for an area where he was not well known – a place he could hide and find rest.
Sometimes a strategic retreat is the best way to deal with an obstacle. It gives you time to rest and reflect on the problem. After a short time, you are rejuvenated and ready to tackle the obstacle.
Even Jesus needed to get away every once in a while.
2. Time with God
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 15:16).
Jesus’ greatest source of strength when facing obstacles was his intimate conversation with his heavenly Father. In that conversation, God the Father reminded Jesus of how much he loved him and how proud he was of him. The Father inspired Jesus and gave him instructions for his disciples.
Jesus told his disciples that nothing he said to them came from him, but was actually information he was relaying from his heavenly Father (John 14:24).
Jesus loved his time with God.
3. Take One Day at a Time
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34).
Jesus taught his disciples to take one day at a time. I know what you’re thinking: Easier said than done.
Jesus was not against planning. In fact, he taught his disciples the wisdom of planning ahead (Luke 14:28). The key is to keep it all in perspective. Once you have made your plans, you have to always keep in mind that everything is ultimately in the hands of God.
Jesus told a parable about a farmer who had all kinds of grand plans, but then he died suddenly and all his planning was for nothing (Luke 12:16-20).
The moral of the story? Plans have their place, but the final word on the future belongs to God.
So, take one day at a time.
4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear … Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Matt. 12:22, 25-26).
Jesus told his disciples not to worry about all the little things that they had so little control over.
Most of the stuff we fret over never turns out to be the great mountains we imagined them to be.
Obstacles are real. It’s just that there is a human tendency to make them bigger than what they actually are. Most monsters aren’t very scary once you pull them out from under the bed and turn the lights on.
Deal with the big issues, and don’t sweat the small stuff.
5. Recognize Your True Power
I am the vine; you are the branches … If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:5, 7).
Ultimately, Jesus knew where his power came from. And he told his disciples that as long as they were connected to the power of God they would always be successful.
The key to finding peace in the face of your obstacles lies in your commitment to staying connected to God.
Keep these five Jesus principles in mind as you face your mountains today, and you will find peace in the face of every challenge!