Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thank You, Lord, for My Own Private Gethsemane

“He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them.”

—Mark 14:33-34a (NIV).

Biblical metaphors are present in life all the time. When people question the relevancy of the Bible we can respectfully be quite dumbfounded when we consider the very real-to-life biblical accounts.

It simply defies rational thought that the truths of the Bible can’t be seen in life today, yesterday and tomorrow. And in case parables, miracles and tales of history aren’t enough, there’s the wisdom writings, including the psalms, which advise and empathise—this Word is so practical many literally live on it.

Let’s apply the metaphor of Gethsemane—Jesus’ agonising in the garden prior to being frog-marched into custody. There are so many angles when we begin to think about it.

è There’s the time when we’re left alone to suffer; the time when it appears God has deserted us.

è Not only does it appear that God is absent, trusted others have fallen asleep on the job or have gone A.W.O.L. right in the time of our most urgent need.

è We’re at the depths of our sorrow—indeed, close to death, emotionally speaking.

è We pray and we pray and we pray—yet, there’s no answer. Is that God’s will? We resolve that it must be, but it doesn’t help us.

è We pray that his will be done—not ours, but unlike Jesus, we often don’t want to be held to that reality.

è We’re physically close to others yet they’re far from us; does the concept of feeling ‘alone in a crowded room’ seem familiar?

I think I’ve made my point; however, this list is not exhausted. But, that’s not the key point. The key point is we can thank God for all our living experience, especially the ones where there is a biblical precedent that Jesus endured.

Jesus, whilst he might have been temporarily cut off from the Father in the garden, sought God in prayer. In his difficulty he drew close to the Father, and in ours we have the very same opportunity.

The blessing of blessings in this is when we’re in our very own private gardens of Gethsemane we’re approaching the surest, all-conquering loneliness known to humankind—a type of Presence of God is experienced that surpasses all others. And it’s here, alone, we’re blessed with his most intimate healing touch.

To have endured even one true Gethsemane experience is a tonic that provides the heart with the muscle memory to last a lifetime. Indeed, in the context of heart-rending pain, this closeness to God is ironically alluring and a treasure we hold dear for the rest of our lives—we often want to return to it.

And, so, we are thankful for it.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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