Crashing waves of bitterness and self pity pounded the empty places within me.
What thoughts must have been going through Jesus’ mind when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane? Burdened and troubled to the point of sweating droplets of blood, Jesus poured out His soul in desperate petition. He knew full well what was coming. Betrayal, abandonment, wrongful accusations that would lead to the greatest suffering mankind has ever known, were just moments away.
“And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:41-42
He did not desire what was to come for Himself. What man in his right mind would want that? However, He longed for His Father’s will and not His own. Therefore, He embraced it because He understood the power of a joyful obedience.
Jesus was not alone that dark night. He was surrounded by His loved ones, His disciples, His only earthly family so to speak, the ones who truly knew Him the best. Yet, they didn’t really know Him at all. They had no idea what burden the Lord bore that night and as a matter of fact, what He had been bearing the whole of His life. Ever looming before Him like a deadly storm at sea, Jesus was constantly reminded of His ultimate sacrifice here on earth.
Yet, because of His great love and selfless determination, Jesus laid aside the heaviness of those thoughts so that He could focus on what was truly important. His life story was one of selfless sacrifice, setting aside the knowledge of His burdens in order to carry our own. He tried at times to share His heart with others, yet they just didn’t understand.
Surrounded by loved ones Jesus knew the terrifying feeling of utter aloneness.
There is such purpose in the experiences of Jesus. Part of the Eternal Plan was that He lived the whole of the human experience so that He could fully empathize with the human condition. There is nothing that we experience that He cannot understand. Jesus went through His darkest hours alone and broken so that we would not have to.
He asks us to do what He did, pick up our lives with all that they entail, to follow Him.
“Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves
and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
A few days ago I had one of those horrible days that start off bad and only get worse. My important had to be shoved aside to give way to others’ urgent. I spent the whole of my day serving my family and the hungry and homeless we serve. I longed to pour my heart out over a cup of coffee and feel the warmth of friendship and loving encouragement. But it never came. Pain built up inside of me. Didn’t anyone see that I had needs as well? A couple of friends did call and I thought, “Oh here is my chance to let it all out.” But they needed my understanding and love more than I needed their shoulder to cry on. Crashing waves of bitterness and self pity pounded the empty places within me. I needed those places filled with His Love and a better understanding of what is means to serve others better than myself.
We follow in the footsteps of the Divine when we selflessly lay aside our necessity for consolation in order to comfort and serve others in their times of anguish.
My thoughts were drawn to the Apostle Paul and to a portion of scripture in Philippians. Time and time again, it seems that the giants of the faith received great peace and strength in serving others while in the midst of their own struggles. Jesus lived His life as an example of service in the midst of suffering. He was able to do it because He had an eternal perspective. He had great JOY in enduring.
We must never allow bitterness and self pity to root up inside of us when we are called to serve.
“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross” Hebrews 12:2
Imagine Jesus, being raised up on the cross. Betrayed, bloody, broken and all alone, He looked out at the throngs of people watching Him hanging there waiting. Some were waiting for Him to die yet others for a miracle. Jesus opened His eyes and He found His joy. He found the strength in his great joy to endure it through to the end.
You are His Joy, I am His Joy, We are His Great Joy
The thought of Us choosing Him and living a life honoring to Him in right relationship, the thought of us loving God, brought Him so much immeasurable JOY that He was able to endure.
Then, He asks us to do what He did, pick up our cross and follow Him.
We need our daily moments with the Lord in the gardens of Gethsemane to give us the grace to make it through.
It is easier to pick up that cell phone and call a friend. It is funner to go and have a quick chat over coffee. But that cannot take the place of where we find our true joy. This is why we need our daily devotional times with Him. We need His graces to bring us through the day. There is so much to entangle us in this life. There is pain, brokenness and crosses we must carry. We need our daily moments with the Lord in the gardens of Gethsemane to give us that grace to make it through.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus~Philippians 2