The Bible hugely promotes supporting each other as Christians. The Old Testament, tells the story of Moses who led the Israelites during the exodus from Egypt to Canaan. The old man was frequently stressed and frustrated by the impatient Israelites who wouldn’t listen to him. Then, he was attacked by the Amalekites who were evil and represented the archetypal enemy of the Jews. Moses instructed his handyman, Joshua, to go and fight them while he stood on the hill holding the staff of God in his hands. Aaron and Hur, in support, accompanied Moses to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held his hands up, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered them, the Amalekites would win. Therefore, failure was not an option here; it was a matter of life and death. Losing meant the Israelites would be held captive. So Moses had to keep those arms held up at all costs. Understandably, Moses was under immense pressure as he could only lift his hands for so long. Consequently, his colleagues came to his aid by creatively helping Moses to keep those hands up. They used stones, one on each hand, so that the hands remained steady and up until sunset. As a result, Joshua overcame the Amalekite army. This kind of support takes commitment and maturity. Paul, writing to the Galatians, encouraged them to:
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ”.
Similarly, in the New Testament, we see Jesus supporting his back-slid friends by the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had risen from the dead and was playing hide and seek by showing himself to his disciples every now and then. But Peter was getting impatient with it; having spent three years with Jesus and having enjoyed his company, he needed consistency and reassurance. Peter was tired of waiting and he was hungry too, so he decided to go back to his career which he was familiar with: fishing. The other disciples followed him too.
Despite all their efforts and experience, that night they caught nothing. They were stressed, tired, hungry, disappointed, discouraged and probably guilty, having returned to the same place from where Jesus had called them. Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize him at all. It was very strange not to have recognized their friend who had spent long days and late nights for three years with them. Not even his voice, despite the many times he had taught them at the synagogue.
Amazingly, Jesus didn’t show any disappointment. Instead, he kind of teased them… Of course, he knew they hadn’t caught anything all night long but the conversation went like this:
“Hey friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
“Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
Jesus reached out to them and supported them at a time of need. Although the disciples had failed on so many levels, Jesus did not rebuke them or show them how stupid they had been. Instead, he called them friends, using a completely different tone of voice; one of sympathy, love and genuine concern for their basic needs. He not only helped them get a big catch that could have made them money, but he also prepared a BBQ ready for breakfast. Jesus showed us that we shouldn’t only support people who are good to us or because they are right but we support them because that’s what Christians do. They support each other.
Research backs ‘Support from colleagues and supervisors’ as a factor to help reduce stress and strain responses. In Ethiopia, Selamawit et al (2014) reported lack of support among the nurses to have led to burnout while (Bourbonnais et al 2006) had a positive response in stress reduction in his study. Another study by (Limm et al 2012) found improved stress on managers when he measured cortisor and found reduced levels after social and supervisory support.