Comfort for an Anguished Soul

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There are times when we are sad.

We lose a game. We make a mistake. Lebron goes back to Cleveland.

There are times when we are hurt.

Someone gets mad at you. A friend graduates. Lebron goes back to Cleveland.

Then there are times when we are grieved.

A family member passes away suddenly. A long relationship comes to an end. A time of inevitable sorrow is fast approaching and there’s nothing we can do to stop it.

This opens up a whole new level of anguish and pain that far surpasses the minor sadnesses we experience in everyday life.

When we reach this point of hopelessness and complete sorrow (or worse, unexpectedly find ourselves there), we often think we are doomed and hopeless forever.

“There’s no way out.”

“I’m going to be miserable forever.”

“No one knows what I’m going through.”

I have said the last one to myself thousands of times for hundreds of different situations. When I struggle with something or feel a little pain, I somehow convince myself that I’m the only person who has ever gone through this and no one has ever experienced what I’m feeling.

My hope in writing this is that someone who is grieved or anguished will come across this and be filled with hope. This message lies in the fact that no matter what you’re going through, no matter what you’re feeling, and no matter how hopeless of a state you may be in, you always have hope in the midst of your anguished soul.

Now if you’d like, please turn to the book of Luke, chapter 22. Go ahead, I’ll give you a minute….

Alright, I’ll just put it up:

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’ 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.” Luke 22:39-44.

Scripture here reveals one of the darkest nights in human history, featuring the most sorrowed individual in human history—Jesus Christ.

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives to plea before his Father to not allow him to die an extraordinarily painful death, despite the fact that he’s known for 33 years that it was inevitably coming.

Throughout all of his ministry—all of his miracles, all of his teaching and preaching and feeding thousands and changing water into wine and healing lepers and becoming half Jesus/half Rambo in a temple that defiled God’s name—Jesus knew this day was coming. And there’s nothing he could do but accept it.

So—as a side note—I hate public speaking. Absolutely hate it. I can talk all day, but if you put me in front of a group of 10+ and tell me to talk about something, I freeze. Actually, I turn into Chris Farley from this scene in Black Sheep (One small step for man, one giant…I HAVE A DREAM!”)

So when my teacher tells us we’re giving a presentation next week, I worry the entire week. No matter what I’m doing throughout those seven days, the back of mind keeps reminding me that I have to speak in front of a crowd soon.

The unrelenting apprehension from my upcoming speech helps me to picture Jesus’ life and troubled state a little clearer (but not nearly enough).

Think about it.

This dude—Jesus—would spend all day preaching and speaking of the Kingdom, and was constantly surrounded by people. So, in reality, he was probably too busy to sit around and worry about what was going to happen in a few years.

But when Jesus was alone or unoccupied, or when his head hit the pillow at night, I guarantee thoughts would fill his head and remind him of the death he would soon experience.

“Your crucifixion is coming, Jesus. Imagine the pain; imagine the mockery. You’re going to leave all of these people on their own. You can’t escape this.”

So while I’m sitting here worried about a three minute speech that won’t affect anything in my life, Jesus had to deal with the constant reality of his impending death on Calvary.

That’s not easy.

And that’s why that night on the Mount of Olives was so sorrowful. The day he had been dreading for years had finally approached, and it so anguished him that his “sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

So what do we do with this passage? Do we read it and say, “Aw, that’s rough,” and continue on to Jesus’ arrest?

We can. We can take this scripture at face value and respect Christ’s act of sorrow, but leave it at that.

Or…

We could go a step further and relate it to how it affects our lives personally. We could take what we see here—Jesus in a bent over position, crying out to God with blood-like beads of sweat pouring down his face, filled with dark emotions of sorrow and anguish that we could never even begin to imagine—and apply it to our hopeless situations and weak conditions.

The greatest realization from this scripture is that Jesus suffered too! I often imagine Jesus waltzing up to the Cross, climbing on, and feeling no major pain; but this passage refutes that by horrifyingly describing the real distress that he felt on the night before his killing. It portrays a man—fully human, with the same struggles that you and I face every single day—needing strength and hope from the same God we worship.

Hebrews 2:18 tells us, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

That is an amazing hope to every person who is alive and breathing, because we quickly realize that our struggles and our sorrowful states have been felt by Jesus Christ himself.

If we find ourselves in states of hopelessness and anguish, we must remember that the Lord himself has experienced what we now experience.

Every heartbreak, every loss, every ounce of pain—Jesus knows how it feels.

But as the scripture shows, there is so much more than just acknowledging that Jesus also struggled. It is important to also study how he handled his hardships and what he did in the midst of them.

In the same Luke 22 passage, we see Jesus turn directly to prayer and say, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

It’s amazing to note that Jesus didn’t just turn to prayer as a last resort—it was his first priority.

As we enter periods of unbelievable and often unbearable anguish, we must turn to the Lord and trust in him. We must submit to him, pray his will be done, and remember that Jesus can relate.

And at the end of the day, maybe I’ll be humbled and realize that giving a three minute presentation about Microsoft Word isn’t nearly as bad as dying for mankind.

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