Let’s Talk About Stress
By Scott Fiddler
The Word: John 7:1-9
1After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him.
2Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near.
3Therefore His brothers said to Him, “Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing.
4“For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.”
5For not even His brothers were believing in Him.
6So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.
7“The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.
8“Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.”
9Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee.
If you ever think your life is too stressful, John 7 is as a good chapter to read. Here, Jesus is doing the job he was sent to do, teaching people, healing them, and revealing to them who He was. No easy task. But add to all that that He was doing all these things while there was a group of people trying to kill Him. Sometimes, I think about the different stressors in my work and in my life, then I think about Jesus. What if I had to do my job while looking over my shoulder knowing there was a group of people seeking to kill me?
Jesus also had some family-relational issues. His own brothers did not believe He was who He said He was. Their suggestion to Jesus that he go down to Judea (“…so that Your disciples may also see Your works which You are doing”) then seems to be sarcastic at best. I wonder if Jesus’ brothers had heard the Jewish leaders in Judea were seeking to kill Jesus. If so, that makes their suggestion Jesus go to Judea far worse than sarcastic.
Both of these situations—one circumstantial and the other relational—would qualify in anyone’s book as adversity. Interestingly, Jesus explains the reason for the adversity: “The world . . . hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil.” (v. 7). Jesus’s adversity came as a result of doing the will of God. The Apostle Paul warned Timothy of this truth, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim. 3:12).
Sharing in Jesus’ sufferings—suffering for doing what is right—is a means by which Christians come to know Jesus better. (Phil. 3:10). Suffering as a result of our own bad decisions or bad conduct is of little or no value (I Peter 2:20), except to the extent it brings us to repentence.
All suffering is not the same. If you are currently suffering adversity in your life, ask yourself whether it is a result of your own bad conduct or bad decisions or because you are doing the will of God. If it is the former, repent; if the latter, press into Jesus and rejoice; you have a wonderful opportunity to know Him in a much deeper way.