We have entered into Gethsemane, a global Gethsemane. We are facing deaths of many kinds, so many losses, on so many levels. Crying out for mercy.
We are keeping vigil with our families, our friends – with the whole world.
In Scripture we see another vigil.
Jesus gathered his friends and – Went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with me.” (Matt. 26: 36 – 38)
While Jesus is suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prays to God, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39).
And, Luke‘s gospel tells it this way: (Luke 22:41-44) He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
The Man of Sorrows
Like Jesus, we have fallen face to the ground, wept and plead and cried out. To Him, the Man of Sorrows and Acquainted with our Griefs. The One who knows all our longings, hears our supplication. Jesus, who sees us now, in all we are facing in 2020, during this pandemic.
Jesus, the One who weeps for and with us.
We see Him in the Garden. Hebrews 5: 7 says, “During the days of Jesus’ earthly life, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death…”
Loud cries and tears, my friend. Our tears and our groaning, the loud cries of anguish, He hears. He, in fact, our example.
So, we do not have to be afraid, or ashamed of our tears.
Strengthened and in anguish
What strikes me most in Luke‘s account is that although an angel appeared from heaven to strengthen Him, the angel did not take away His anguish. “An angel appeared… to Him, strengthening Him. AND being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like great drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.”
Here is the great sustainer, the comfort in all our despair, we—given strength to face and walk through the agony of uncertainty, loss and death and pain.
On our faces, we cry out—deliver us, answer us. Like Jesus, our agony is great.
We do not know where this is going, how it will turn out, when it will end.
So, with heartfelt surrender, we pray the prayer of Jesus. We entrust, turn over all that is on our hearts, all our longings, our hopes and our desires. As much as we are able, we leave all of it there, trusting each moment into the Sovereign Hands of our God.
And He gives us the strength we need for this day, and the one after that.
Grace and mercy, new every single day.
For now and for always.
In our global Gethsemane, we enter into the Garden with Jesus.
We know there is darkness and suffering ahead.
But we know this too –
There is hope,
there is the Resurrection.
And one day “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Rev. 21:4.
Amen and amen.