Go! for Lent: Matthew 26:37
This gripping text tells part of the story of Jesus and the disciples being in the Garden of Gethsemane, before Jesus is betrayed by Judas. Jesus is already in turmoil. Friends and followers are exhausted and cannot stay awake. Jesus knows the pain of the current reality and the desire to ask for a different way out.
Part of living through a difficult time is this kind of anguished prayer. Jesus was “going” a little farther into the heartbreak, into the darkness, into the loneliness… It is there, when we are honest with ourselves and with God, that we can find that we are not alone at all.
I have walked and prayed through these times in my own life and with others. I did not want my father to by dying, yet there I sat, on the floor next to his hospital bed, at eye level for him, holding his hand and praying. He died. I did not want my dear friend to be going through the pain of an agonizing divorce, yet there I sat, in the lawyer’s office, in the courtroom, in her home, in her car, with her kids. It was a truly awful situation. I did not want to have a different friend have to face the devastation of losing another child to miscarriage, yet there I sat, in the doctor’s office, on her couch, picking up her groceries, praying, praying, praying.
And none of these were polite prayers, let me tell you. They were the throw yourself on the ground and holler at God kind of prayers. The kind that Jesus showed us we could and should pray at times like these. “Alright God, if there is another way out of this, let’s see it, NOW!” And in the midst of these prayers, I also somehow managed another part of the prayer – the “not what I want but what you want” part.
What I found was that “going” that next step in prayer, having been completely honest about how hard it felt, brought me to a new understanding each time. In holding my father’s hand as his breathing slowed, in holding my friend’s shoulders as she sobbed, in making a simple dinner for a couple, it was there that I could hear that we were not alone. I felt God’s heart breaking along with ours.
Honesty, prayer, presence - I pray that I will grow in “going” a little farther.