The trauma Jesus experienced on the CrossCOLLAPSE
An article by Krause and Pargament (2018) evaluates three hypotheses: a) reading the Bible lessens stress and strengthens hope, b) positive coping responses correlate to how often people read the Bible, and c) those who rely on religious practices, like Bible reading, have a more positive (hopeful) outlook regarding the future. Their comprehensive study gathered analysis from more than 2000 participants on their responses to a recent stressful event (within 18 months). In brief, the findings provide support for all three assumptions and identify the Bible as a meaningful coping resource with a “potential stress-buffering function” (Krause & Pargament, 2018, p. 1438).
The Bible exhorts believers in numerous places to not worry or fear (e.g., the fruits of stress). Commonly known scriptures include John 14:7, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you… Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” and Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (New International Version). Jesus told His disciples to not worry (Matthew 6:34) and rebuked them in the midst of what seemed like a logical place for fear—a storm. Jesus said, “… ‘You of little faith, why are you so afraid?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Matthew 8:26, NIV).
One of the greatest traumatic events in history was the death of Jesus. The thought of what was about to take place caused Him to literally sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). Jesus was beaten beyond recognition (Isaiah 52:14) and, on the cross, even asked “My God…why…” (Matthew 27:46a, NIV). The example I see in Jesus is that although He felt forsaken asked why (and does NOT get a response), He shows amazing trust at the end, “… ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ …” (Luke 23:46b, NIV). Any time I am seriously struggling with “why” since our daughter was killed by a drunk driver in March 2016, I go back to the Word and find it as a resource for comfort. I think of Jesus’ example of complete surrender in the midst of great suffering and “why.” I am reminded that, because of the cross, God knows the stress of trauma first-hand and gives us permission to embrace it and wrestle with Him through it. He understands our humanity, which is why He is our perfect intercessor (Hebrews 4:15).
Although there are no easy answers, the Father does promise to not waste the difficulty and pain (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). It does not mean all the questions will be answered nor the stress/fear/doubt/anger/impact of trauma will be magically diminished. Nevertheless, Jesus provides assurance of help (Romans 8:26) and—most importantly—promises to never leave us when a storm comes (Matthew 14:30-31).
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Krause, N., & Pargament, K. I. (2018). Reading the bible, stressful life events, and hope: Assessing an overlooked coping resource. Journal of Religion and Health, 57(4), 1428-1439. doi:10.1007/s10943-018-0610-6