We all go through times of distress. The other day, I was feeling quite upset. My uncle was sick with Stage IV cancer, and his prognosis didn’t look good. I was also dealing with some personal issues and insecurities that were causing me to feel sad and down. I was in a funk, and I couldn’t seem to get myself out of it.
Jesus in Distress
I was reading a story about Jesus the other day, and I think it can provide a good model for what to do when we are in distress. The story is from Mark 14, at the end of Jesus’ life. Jesus in in Jerusalem, and he can feel the walls closing in. The religious and political leaders are trying to find a way to arrest Jesus and put him to death. From reading the passage, it seems like Jesus has the sense that the end is near. And like anyone would be in his situation, Jesus is feeling distressed. So what does Jesus do?
4 Things to Do in Distress
- Pray. The first thing Jesus does is pray. They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” God is his source of trust and support, so it makes sense that Jesus goes to God in times of trouble. In the same way, in our times of trouble, we too can go to God for support and help.
- Be with community. Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t go alone. He takes his closest friends to be with him. He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” Jesus knows the importance of community. He leans on God for support, but he also leans on people. In the same way, we need to reach out to our community for support when we are experiencing distress.
- Be honest. Jesus is honest about what he wants. If it were possible, he would prefer to not experience the suffering that he knows is probably coming. Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” It’s okay to be honest with God about what you want. If you want healing, ask for it. If you want courage and strength, ask for it. God isn’t afraid of your requests.
- Leave the outcome to God. Even though Jesus asks for what he wants, he understands that the final outcome of the situation is not in his control. So, he gives it up to God. “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” There are many things in our life that are outside our control. So, after you have prayed, surrounded yourself with community, and honestly communicated what you want, leave the outcome up to God.
Take Home Message: It sucks to go through troubles and hardships. We all wish we didn’t have to do it. Yet, pain and struggle are part of the human experience. We can’t avoid all suffering. But when we are in distress, there’s a way to walk through it that can lead to peace. The next time you are in distress, try following the example of Jesus and see what comes up for you.