Mark 14:32-42, Jesus and disciples reach the Garden of Gethsemane and Jesus takes Peter, James and John aside to pray. Exhausted, the disciples fall asleep but Jesus labors in prayer. He knows what he is about to face. Perhaps it is in the anticipation of an event when we struggle the most. In studying transition, Dave Pollock called it “the work of worry.” The work of worry precedes a big move. What will happen to the dog? By when must we sell the house? The work of worry precedes the wedding. We develop the invitation list, plan for outfits, order cakes and so much more. Even worry precedes a funeral. Will I be able to control my grief? The work of worry is important, even for children, and helps us go from one phase in life to the next. It often seems that once we have done the work of worry that then adrenaline kicks in and we are able to walk into the unknowns of the future.
The disciples handle all this talk about betrayal by going to sleep. Perhaps their conscious mind is overwhelmed and possibly the disciples are just exhausted but sleep is one way we cope with stress. Withdrawing deep inside ourselves seems to be a way of summoning courage. Denial is another form – it really won’t be so bad. Jesus, on the other hand, turns to prayer. We see him wrestling with the Father and pleading for an alternative. Finally the wrestle is over. “Not my will, but thine be done,” he prays to the Father. Submitting to “a higher authority” does not make the resulting experience beautiful but it allows trust and a certain peace to carry you through.
I went to the doctor who said I needed to have an operation. When I climbed in the car my husband asked and I shared. What would bring me peace he asked. I said I’d like it if I could get a fax from heaven, perhaps a Bible verse, and if I could talk to someone who had the operation. The next morning he read the normal reading and asked if I got my verse. I had. In the reading was the passage, if a piece of your body offends you, cut it off. Operations are ok. That was not the intent of the verse but it spoke to my situation. Then I went to my meeting and every person in the room had had the operation or knew someone who had and gave superlative affirmations about the value of the operation. The women would bring meals over for my family during the recovery time! Wow! I was at peace. The work of worry stopped. Jesus took three disciples and went and prayed, wrestling with the Father. Once he was convinced, he was ready to face the mob.
Perhaps there is an issue you are struggling with now, something for which you need advice. That’s ok. Are there trusted friends? Have you committed it to prayer? One of the assurances of Lent is that as we face our sinfulness, our weakness and tendency to fall short, God knows and walks with us. It is possible to find peace in the midst of trauma. Blessings as you go to your Garden of Gethsemane today to do the work of worry with God!