Today’s Scripture: Mark 14:32-42
32 They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” 33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say.
41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
In this brief and powerful passage, I think we get a master class in how to handle life when it just overwhelms us. Jesus was in the middle of a crisis. He knew what was before him: arrest, torture, death. But he also knew that it was part of God’s plan – why he was here in the first place. But that did not make it any easier.
Watch what Jesus does during this crisis. First, he pulled in his closest friends – Peter, James, and John. He confided in them that he was depressed and grieving. He wanted them to be close to him.
Second, he makes prayer a priority and pulls away from the group to make it happen. I know it’s hard to pray when you’re feeling run over and anxious and depressed. But notice the type of prayer Jesus is praying – it’s lament. It’s telling God about his grief and asking for it to be taken away. Prayer does not have to be perfect words all arranged in a row. It can (and should) be honest conversation with God – even if that conversation is a bit rough around the edges.
Third, Jesus learned that sometimes friends will not give you what you need – and that’s OK. The disciples fell asleep. Twice! At first this seems to upset Jesus. But towards the end of the passage he has compassion for his friends and tells them to go ahead and sleep. Your friends are there to listen and help and it’s important to reach out to them. But sometimes they will need to sleep. And, having compassion and serving others has been proven to help us deal with our own crises better.
Pull in close friends. Pull away for prayer. Develop compassion and serve others. It’s how to deal with “overwhelm-ness” of the world.
God we are all faced from time to time with soul crushing grief or depression or anxiety. Some of us are there even today. Help us to follow the example of Jesus and reach out the close friends, find time to pray – even if it’s just crying out to you, and serve others with compassion. Help us to realize that all storms rain out.