How To Respond In the Face of Adversity
By Steph Nickel
As Christians, how do we respond in the face of adversity? Do we hide our feelings? Or do we ask others for support? Steph Nickel shows us how Jesus reacted when He found out about John The Baptist’s death.
Herod Murders John
Despite teaching the crowds about the kingdom of God, Jesus was rejected in His hometown.
Matthew 13:57-58 says, “‘A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.’ And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”
As if this wasn’t bad enough, Matthew 14:1-12 tells the story of John’s the Baptist’s murder. John was in prison because he dared to rebuke Herod the tetrarch about his immoral marriage to his brother’s wife, Herodias.
It seems Herod was content to leave John in prison, but this wasn’t enough for his wife. She took advantage of his promise to her daughter, which he made in front of his birthday guests. Having said he would give her anything she requested, the girl, prompted by her mother, asked for John’s head on a platter. Herod had painted himself into a corner, and despite the fact that he didn’t want to do it, he granted her request.
Jesus Learns Of John’s Death
Verse 12 says,“[John’s] disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.”
While Jesus was fully God, He was also fully human. Can you imagine how He felt? Think about it. You have just been rejected by those who knew you best—or thought they did. You would have done “many mighty works,” but their lack of faith tied your hands. And now you hear that the one who had blazed the trail for you—humanly speaking, your cousin—has been put to death in a brutal, repulsive misuse of power.
How Jesus Responded In The Face Of Adversity
Don’t be deceived. These occurrences would have weighed heavily on the Lord. Verse 13 says,
“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.”
And what did He do? Did He send them away? Did He lash out at them? Did He shake His head and look up to heaven and cry out, “These people just don’t get it!” No, of course not.
He saw the members of the crowd for who they were, those in need of a Saviour, a Redeemer, a Provider. And despite the pain He was bearing, He took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed 5,000 men plus women and children until they were full. What love! What compassion!
How do we respond in the face of adversity?
No, we’re not the Saviour of the world, but we Christians are His ambassadors on Earth. Plus, we have all we need for life and godliness, as it says in 2 Peter 1:3. The more we mature in Christ, the more we become like Him.
When life is just one heartache after another, what example do we set for our children?
Don’t Ignore It
First, what we shouldn’t do . . . I don’t believe it’s healthy—or honest—to pretend we’re not hurting. It’s unlikely that we will be able to ignore our feelings indefinitely. If we keep doing this every time challenges and tragedies come our way, we may eventually explode from the pressure. We may become physically ill. We may lash out at someone, often someone close to us, over a minor issue. We may have a full-fledged breakdown.
Bear Each Other’s Burdens
We are to bear one another’s burdens, as it says in Galatians 6:2. We are not meant to go it alone. There will be times we can offer compassion and a listening ear and times we can meet another’s material needs. But at other times, it will be us who are in need. Even Jesus often withdrew to the hills to pray. But let’s not forget what that means. He was spending time with His Father, the only one who truly knew what His Son was going through.
And this is exactly what Jesus did upon hearing John had been put to death. But those in the crowd didn’t say to one another, “Let’s leave the Master alone for a while. His cousin was just murdered. We should give Him time to grieve.”
No, they were a crowd of needy people and they needed to find the only one who cared enough—and had the power—to meet their needs.
Most of us have the means to meet another’s needs, whether it’s a listening ear or a warm meal. God calls us to love others even when we are going through difficult times. And I have found that when I’m outwardly focused, my own issues seem to fade into the background—at least for a time.
Call on God
Let’s learn two lessons from this passage. First, there are times God calls us to put others’ needs before our own. But also, we can freely go to Him whenever we are hurting, whenever we have a need. He is always willing to draw us close and meet our needs, which He often does through another person. If we learn these lessons, we will be able to teach them to our children.
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Images courtesy of:
St. John The Baptist- Leonardo da Vinci
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