Suffering; August 18, 2020


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.

This scene of Jesus praying in Gethsemane is one that every believer should meditate on, probably frequently. Nothing of what happened to Jesus from this point surprised Him, though we don’t know how much detail He was aware of. There have been martyrs in the centuries since then who have faced things similarly, but the emotional pressure and the strength of commitment involved are hard to imagine. In a sense, Jesus was cursed to be both fully human and fully Divine, because the tension had to be incredible. In His humanity He certainly didn’t want to go through a minute of the hours that were to follow, but in His divinity He fully understood what it was going to involve. The phenomenon recorded here, of blood mixing with His sweat, is unusual but medically recorded in cases of extreme emotional anguish. As has been said, courage isn’t not being afraid, it’s being afraid and going ahead anyway. Jesus not only endured scourging and crucifixion for us, He endured the foreknowledge of that suffering, and again, He did it for us. It was after enduring this pinnacle of emotional anguish that He performed His last act of physical healing, as recorded in verse 51. We wouldn’t be fit to do anything for anybody in such a situation! This is the Savior we serve, and He is more than worthy of all our love, honor, obedience, and devotion.

I don’t feel like I have suffered very much, and certainly not with foreknowledge, like Jesus here. I don’t look forward to the local anesthesia injections I’ll receive with my surgery on the 25th, knowing how much they hurt, but that is certainly small potatoes compared to what Jesus went through for me. I am very aware that I have no room to complain about anything in my life – but I sometimes do it anyway! In teaching Medical English, in the section on symptoms there is a footnote in the textbook explaining that some people will say, “I am suffering from a runny nose,” or whatever, as opposed to just saying, “I have a runny nose.” I always tell my students that anyone who says that has no idea of what real suffering is! Being aware of the persecution being endured by many of my brothers and sisters in Christ in many places in the world, I often feel like I have no idea of what real suffering is! My wife endures a great deal of pain because of her Parkinson’s Disease and other factors, and she is remarkably uncomplaining about it. My respect and admiration for her are very high. That’s another reason I feel like I have no room to complain about anything. Today has a packed schedule, but God will give me both the wisdom and the strength to get through it, accomplishing each thing as it needs to be done. I need to be grateful in advance, fully trusting that God will be true to His character.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thinking about all that needs to be done puts real pressure on me. Help me rather focus on the task at hand, not doing the next thing in my mind ahead of time, so that I may indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, as You have told me to do. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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