“Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’” (Mark 1:36-37)
Many professional leaders, executives and managers are working harder with fewer resources every year. As a Christian psychologist and church pastor, I am no stranger to this predicament. The do-more-with-less-and-better culture is pervasive at church as well as at work. But having 24/7 Internet access, constant connection via smart phones, caffeine addiction, sleep deprivation, and being stressed out in general can cause the body to be in a chronic fight-or-flight state (Eblin, 2014).
The chronic fight-or-flight state, if mild, leads to anxiety, insomnia, poor decision-making, a lack of focus and generally poor health. In the long run, it leads to broken relationships, premature aging and early death.
The life of the overworked and overwhelmed is vividly depicted through Jesus’ example in Mark 1:37 when Simon and his companions exclaimed, “Everyone is looking for you [Jesus]!” Simon’s statement signaled an imminent plea for Jesus’ attention, as was the routine when Jesus was asked to heal the sick or deal with demons. Here is an intriguing question: How did Lord Jesus prevent himself from falling into a chronic fight-or-flight state in the midst of frantic demands?
According to studies, when a person directs his or her awareness to the present moment and accepts his or her feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, wellness can be restored. However, this requires quietness and focus without excitation or unwanted simulation—a state of being uncommon in our everyday lives. What does this look like for Christians? The preceding verse, Mark 1:35, depicts Jesus praying in a solitary place and suggests that prayer and meditation seem to offer relief and restoration to us Christians:
“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.”
Jesus’ behavior here is similar to the contemplative meditation recommended by studies today. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus purposely engages in tranquil closeness with the Father through prayer. Jesus deliberately quiets His heart so that he can be enriched through intimate communion with God. We can learn from Christ to regularly disengage from the world’s demands—to periodically put down our electronic gadgets in order to be “contemplative” and in close communion with God, so that we do not become overwhelmed by the demands of our world.
- Do you feel overworked and overwhelmed?
- If so, what have you done thus far to ease the stress?
- Moving forward, can you commit to deliberately spending time with the Lord before dealing with everyday business?
Written by Phillip Lowe. Artwork by Carol Li