Lean into Jesus. My husband and I heard this phrase countless times during a challenging season years ago. Brent and I had been married just shy of three months and we were still figuring out our new normal as a family of five. His company abruptly underwent a massive round of layoffs and he was now among the unemployed. We explored all of our options, including a potential out of state move. We pursued that lead to the point of packing a moving truck–but God made it very clear we were not to move forward with our plans.
Instead of moving out of state God saw fit to land us in a smallish town that felt more like our personal Nineveh. I’m not saying this town is like Nineveh, there are some really fabulous people who live there, but for us it was not where we wanted to grow our roots. You bet your britches we fought God all the way on this move. But in the end, God’s will prevailed as it always does.
Brent applied for hundreds of jobs all over the country and the only place he could get interviews was this particular town. Not only that, but he was offered and accepted three humbling positions as it wasn’t feasible for me to work outside the home at that time. That’s correct, God didn’t give Brent an awesome, can’t-turn-it down job–but instead, he was offered three jobs that would help us barely get by. This was God’s provision and we needed to be grateful.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34
We were financially starting from scratch and our family of five made home in a dark, two bedroom basement, rental. While laughter from the kids and the glow of candles brought joy and warmth, we felt beat down, alone, and emotionally exhausted. Our family sojourned through many storms throughout the past year and our current circumstances were hard to swallow. We were doing our best to lean into Jesus, trust His will, and be thankful for his provisions.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Lean into Jesus. Christians use this term quite often, but what exactly does it mean?
Press into Jesus is also used frequently in place of the aforementioned phrase. We say it often in response to those who are struggling in some regard. Unfortunately, this phrase is overused and often just a conversation filler when we don’t know what to say to comfort someone. While our intentions may be genuine we fall short when we fail to deliver practical methods of how to lean into Jesus.
In order to lean into Jesus, we must relinquish our desire to control our circumstances. Learning to rest in God’s sovereignty and trusting that His will is always for our good is challenging and essential. It is important to acknowledge the pain within the situation and avoid minimizing the emotional stress.
Refrain from telling someone to lean into Jesus, instead, tell them you will lean in with them. We can comfort others with emotional support and tangible means by offering encouraging words and being present in their life. Below I’ve listed out a few ideas to get you started that are beneficial for others and yourself.
Encouraging Words – avoid trite sentiments like, “God’s got this” or “It’s part of God’s will” at all costs. Instead, offer a listening ear and ask meaningful questions.
Joy – seek out the joy in the situation, but be cautious not to minimize the hurt.
Time – share a meal, take a walk, go on a rollercoaster, etc. This offers so many benefits not only for the person, but for you as well. Taking the time to momentarily step out of the situation can aid in bringing peace and clarity.
Prayer – make an intentional effort to pray with the person. Do not simply tell them you will pray. With the technology we have there really is no reason you can’t pause for a moment and pray with them.
Scripture – This one is full of options! Send a note with an encouraging verse, study scripture together, text an applicable verse, etc.
Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28
By actively engaging with those who need to lean into Jesus, we are living as the body that God calls us to be. We are emulating imago Dei. Our need to lean into Jesus isn’t limited to suffering or everyday struggles. We all have a never-ending need to rely on and trust God. Our hope isn’t found in our circumstances, whether challenging or blissful, it is only found in Christ.