Summary: The fact that some stress is inevitable does not justify preventable stress. Paul said in Rom. 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all." The implication is clear: A peace maker can prevent a lot of stress in life if they really work at it.
Gipsy Smith was one of the great evangelists in England in the last half of the 19th century. He
had the largest congregation in England outside of London. They met in a building that once
housed the Imperial Circus. One Sunday night the pre-service prayer group was meeting in a side
room used by Circus people as a dressing room. Three hundred people were there singing and
praying. All of the sudden the floor collapsed sending them sprawling into the stables below. 75
people were injured with broken arms, legs, and a few skulls were fractured. All were bruised, but
not a life was lost.
The people gathering in the large auditorium heard the loud crash and were terrified, but there
was no panic. Doctors were sent for, and the injured were taken home in cabs. Gipsy Smith got
himself out of the debris, and rushed back up to the platform to explain the accident, and assure
people that all possible help was being rendered to the injured. He begged them to keep calm.
Some urged him to cancel the service, for though he had no injuries his nerves were in a state of
He was not alone. When he asked for the lights to be turned up, the nervous caretaker turned
them out, and there was a scene of fear and confusion. A Mr. Brown saved the situation by
starting to sing the hymn, Jesus, Lover Of My Soul. The people calmed down and joined him in
the hymn. The lights came on and the service went on, but Gipsy Smith was so weakened by the
stress of that evening that he had to be carried home. For months after this he had after effects of
fear and trembling, and many years later he wrote, "Even now, occasionally, when I am face to
face with a large crowd, something of that feeling of that night comes back to me." He went on to
win thousands of people to Christ in England and America, but he never completely escaped the
impact of that traumatic event.
The point is, just as Christians do not escape the storms of nature, so they do not escape the
storms of their human nature: The storms stirred up by stress, tension, and anxiety. The Christian
is in the world with a physical body and nervous system just like everyone else. When it is 99 in
the shade the Christian body sweats. When it is 30 below the Christian body freezes. When it
steps into an open elevator shaft the Christian body falls, and when the Christian feels the friction
and grinding gears of a fallen world that will not run smooth, the Christian body and mind records
the stress, just like everyone else. Nobody escapes the reality of stress, and that all inclusive
statement does cover our Lord as well.
In Matthew 26:38 Jesus said to His disciples in Gethsemane, "My soul is overwhelmed with
sorrow to the point of death." His disciples did not say to Him what some Christians have said to
others under great stress, "Christians never need to be under the circumstances, but can always live
above them." Such positive thinkers would have a hard time facing the reality that even the Son of
God felt the crushing power of stress. He was already feeling a foretaste of being forsaken by
Dr. Luke writes of this same scene of super stress in Luke 22:44, "And being in anguish, He
prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." If we saw a
Christian brother or sister sweating with anxiety, we would be appalled by their little faith, and
would feel compelled to rebuke them, even if their sweat was just normal body moisture and not
blood. But here we have such stress that blood vessels are broken, and blood is mixing with the
sweat. We are talking about a breaking point here. The human body has limitations as to how
much stress it can bear without breaking down, and Jesus was on the edge of that limit.
It makes sense that He would be, for He was facing a trial which makes all other human trials
minor in comparison. He was facing the burden of the world sin and hell: That is separation from
the Father, and He was innocent. The only man ever to never deserve hell was going to endure it
for all those who do deserve it. We can understand that the cross puts stress on Jesus that was
beyond anything we can imagine, but it is a mistake to think Jesus did not feel the stress of normal
life as well, for he did.
We read in John 11:33, "When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews that had come along with