Lent: Day Thirteen

And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful even to death. Remain here and watch.” And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will. - Mark 14:32-36

The final segment of Jesus’ earthly saga is about to begin. He knows what lies ahead and it causes him to be distressed of soul, even to the point of death. He knows this is the plan God has ordained for him, but it is difficult to imagine Jesus so humanly distraught to the point of asking God to take it away from him. Then again, it depends on what degree of distress we have been subjected to ourselves. I recall once visiting with a patient coming to grips with a recent diagnosis of cancer. As a Christian he was not afraid of death, but he was troubled by the uncertainty of what lay ahead and the fact that, “it definitely was not going to be very pleasant.”

What a consolation it is to know that in his distress Jesus pleaded with God to “take it away from me”. When we find ourselves confronted by seemingly unbearable physical or emotional turmoil it is ok for me to feel distressed and it is ok to ask God to “take it away”. Most importantly, like Jesus, we need to remember God is still our father. William Barclay once said, “Time and again we may not understand a situation, but if we can call God FATHER, everything becomes bearable”.

One hesitates to make observations like this when they haven’t personally experienced such distress. The words of Job’s friend Eliphaz come to mind. After listening to Job complain for a whole chapter Eliphaz says to Job “Your words have helped the tottering to stand and you have strengthened the feeble. But now it comes to you and you are impatient, it touches you and you are dismayed” -Job 4:4-5

There can be no doubt that there is consolation and strength found in clinging to our heavenly father. The question is, when our hour of distress comes even to the point of death, will we remember God is in fact still our father?