Wishing you a Happy Easter week, hoping you are safe and well, and sending some thoughts that I hope will help you find peace.
I think it’s safe to say that we are all under some sort of pressure right now. While we may have some things that have fallen off our plate of responsibilities, we have also taken on other tasks, and other stressors that are for most of us, quite unfamiliar and new.
One of my favorite apps is the Lectio 365 app. It has a daily guided reading and prayer that always centers me and gets my day started on the right focus. This week, they have followed in the footsteps of Jesus by pausing each day to reflect and pray about a different aspect of the Coronavirus crisis in light of the cross. Two of the days focused on mental health, sharing the intense emotions Jesus felt on the days before he knew he was to face the cross, and the coping mechanisms he used to get through this difficult time.
The Bible Passage was Matthew 26:36-39 "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little further, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed. "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
One of the interesting facts I learned about this passage was that in Aramaic, the word Gethsemane actually means “the olive press.” So, Jesus was in a garden which was symbolic of crushing pressure during a time when he certainly felt pressure. So how did he get through this time?
In looking at the passage, we can see the 4 coping mechanisms of Jesus were:
1. He makes himself vulnerable, identifying his three closest friends and asking them for support.
So, to borrow this coping strategy, ask, who can I go to for support? It might look different now, but I can reach out to others.
2. He intentionally goes to the Garden of Gethsemane, one of his favorite, most familiar and tranquil places.
To borrow this coping strategy, ask: Where can I go or sit right now to find peace and comfort?
3. He focuses his thoughts on God's goodness.
To borrow this coping strategy, ask: What is good about God even when things don't seem great? What Bible passage reminds me of his goodness, where do I see God's goodness in my day, even if it's in something small, which is often where God is seen.
4. He prays with honesty.
To borrow this strategy, I can pray without reservation. I can share with God ANYTHING that’s on my heart, knowing he knows me and loves me as I am, ALWAYS.
On that last note, the Psalms are often a place I find peace and comfort.
Psalm 139:1-10 says:
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
And when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.
I hope this brings you peace and comfort as well. I pray that in this time, or any time, when nothing seems certain and things seem far from perfect, that you can still find the one who is perfect, and the one who is certain.
God will be faithful. He will bring us through and out of this. He will always be with us, in the hard, “wilderness” times into the good.
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19
I hope that peace can be with you this Easter and beyond.
Do songs often bring you to a place of peace? Here’s a favorite of mine by Hollyn. Enjoy!