“He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:37-38
There are times when life is difficult. There are times when life is hard. Then there are those times when life is overwhelming and sorrow fills our hearts. Perhaps maybe we’ve lost a loved one that was dear to us. Perhaps an investment has gone terribly wrong. Perhaps we are sick with a terrible disease and it is unknown what the outcome will be. To put these in proper perspective is, well, overwhelming.
Jesus knew what was ahead. He understood the shame, pain, and suffering of the false accusations, sham of a trial, the whips and the cross. He knew that shortly he would cry from it’s wooden face, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” The pain of that sever in fellowship had no other similarity through the ages. It would be suffering that would be difficult to endure. But he was willing to do so. He went ahead of us that we would not have to suffer that loss. He understands what it means to suffer. And yet, here we see his humanity. His soul was troubled to the point of death. What was his answer? It would be twofold. He needed his closest friends to stay even closer to him, and he needed to pray. Augustine, in his confessions wrote,
“Lord, have pity on me. I hide not my wounds; You are the Physician, I the sick; You merciful, I miserable. Is not the life of man upon the earth all trial? Who wishes for troubles and difficulties? You command them to be endured, not to be loved. No man loves what he endures, though he love to endure. For though he rejoices that he endures, he had rather there were nothing for him to endure. In adversity I long for prosperity, in prosperity I fear adversity. What middle place is there between these two, where the life of man is not all trial?”
It is often the case with us as we endure our trials that we need human friends to stand with us in our darkest hour. Notice that Jesus did not expect a sermon from them. He didn’t want them to quote scripture at him or to tell him that he would feel better if he had a little more faith. He wasn’t looking for words from his friends, but just someone to stand with him, to pray with him, to be there for him.
The second thing that Jesus needed in that dark garden at evening was to seek his Father in prayer. He needed to gain a fresh perspective. Was the plan still on? Would he have to endure? Would he have to go through the pain? So he prayed that the cup would pass from him and that he wouldn’t have to drink of it’s gall. But there was no answer from heaven. The Father and the Son had already come to the conclusion that what was going to happen must happen. The will was established, the intention clear. Salvation could happen no other way. At this silence, Jesus was ready to endure. He was ready to suffer.
So, in this life, we need both. We need good friends who will stand with us in our darkest hour and in our most painful difficulties and we need our heavenly Father to guide us into his perfect will whatever that may be. In this way, we’ll be able to endure any trial that comes.