This year, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of lives upended by the COVID-19 health crisis, and far too many are still being impacted.

Those who remained on the front lines heroically fighting the disease and continuing to provide vital services dealt with unimaginable amounts of stress, and we owe them an enormous debt of gratitude. Meanwhile, those who were sent home to work remotely usually discovered that their lives were not much less pressured than they had been previously. And of course it’s been particularly difficult for those who lost loved ones before their time, or their jobs and incomes as companies shuttered and economies wobbled. Finally, with playgrounds, amusement parks, and beaches closed, many children didn’t get to enjoy the carefree break from school they might have hoped for.

As the sun begins to set on this year, we can start to take stock of how we lived through it, and I don’t think anyone will remember 2020 as a long calm river. It’s not been a bumper year for “success” in the traditional sense, but it sure has been a great year for learning about coping with adversity. Each of us in our own situation and circumstances has had to deal with health scares, worries about our families and loved ones, interrupted studies, job loss, financial fears, loneliness—and at the very least, stir-craziness. Hopefully, we can look back and see the ways in which we grew and improved.

Jesus knew what stressful times were. The gospel of Mark describes a Sabbath toward the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, just after He was baptized by John. He starts the day by giving a morning sermon in the Capernaum synagogue, followed by casting out an impure spirit. Then He enters His disciple Peter’s house, and “at once” He’s told that his mother-in-law lay sick with a fever, so He heals her as well. Later that evening, He heals everyone in town who was sick or afflicted.1 And you don’t get the impression from reading the Gospels that this type of day was out of the norm for Jesus.

How did He manage? The secret comes in the very next verse: “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.”2 He might have been physically exhausted, but He recognized a need for spiritual renewal more than physical rest.

This issue of Activated provides practical insight and tips for anyone who struggles with busyness and stress, including a feature article on time management. But let’s not forget the spiritual aspects to a successful, balanced life—primarily prayer and a relationship with our Father.

May God keep you and yours in the shadow of His wings and continue to guide your lives.

  1. See Mark 1:21–34.
  2. Mark 1:35 NLT