I have always been moved by the account of Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before His crucifixion. In His full humanity as the ‘Son of Man’, He faced the horror of becoming sin for us all, and bearing the punishment we deserve. In the Garden He had left the main group of disciples, taking with Him the three who had been closest to him, Peter, James and John.
He left them to intercede for Him, as He went even further, a ‘stone’s throw away’, to battle alone in prayer before His Father. We read in the Gospel accounts how, tired and confused, those three men couldn’t stay awake to support Jesus in His time of greatest need, and fell asleep. It was the comfort of His heavenly Father, and the ministry of an angel, sent to strengthen Him, that sustained Jesus that night.
Some circumstances in our lives can seem like a giant wave that hits us unexpectedly when we are at our weakest, and knocks us breathless off our feet. My wife Gemma and I recently had such an experience. Just as it seemed we were coming out of a long and difficult time of testing and waiting concerning Gemma’s health, we were suddenly faced with a fresh and unexpected setback.
Sometimes it’s hard to share experiences like that with others, even with fellow Christians. They weren’t there. How can they truly know how you feel? It seems that, in our Christian walk, there are times and places when the best of human help can only watch from a distance. Like Jesus in the Garden, we too find ourselves alone with God.
The morning after the experience I described above, the Holy Spirit spoke these words from 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 into my heart, for Gemma and myself. ‘For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia, for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.’
Paul wasn’t afraid to share the despair he had experienced, because he knew that God’s deliverance from such a difficult situation was a testimony through which he could encourage others. Maybe someone reading this Seed today is in a situation that almost seems hopeless, and they are despairing of life itself. If that’s you, you have a heavenly Father who loves and understands you completely. He is the same Father who strengthened Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and He’s full of compassion towards you. He’s ready to pour His comfort into your heart, in such a measure that it will even overflow to others you meet in the future, who are going through similar circumstances.
Prayer: Father, thank You that even when I feel knocked down by the circumstances of life, You pick me up and restore me. I set my hope on You today. Amen.
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