Last night it finally happened. I finally fell into the pit of despair, it was the trap door I had been terrified might be there but I had somehow avoided until then. I’m not really sure what triggered it fully, but in retrospect am suspicious the enemy won a point for some very successful scheming. The moment I realized I was sliding in was when I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off of her empty place on the couch. The whole couch was empty which made it all the worse. There should be a nest of stuff there, my little hoarder piled on the end with a huge blanket, multiple books, at least one journal, multiple pens, candy and candy wrappers strewn around, and a water bottle, or on a really good day a Dr. Pepper with no ice (I still don’t understand that). Instead I was staring at an empty couch, and down I went.
“…Save me, O God, For the waters have threatened my life. I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me. I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; My eyes fail while I wait for my God.” Psalm 69:1-3 [NASB]
“But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness, Answer me with Your saving truth. Deliver me from the mire and do not let me sink; May I be delivered from my foes and from the deep waters. May the flood of water not overflow me Nor the deep swallow me up, Nor the pit shut its mouth on me. Answer me, O LORD, for Your lovingkindness is good; According to the greatness of Your compassion, turn to me, And do not hide Your face from Your servant, For I am in distress; answer me quickly. Oh draw near to my soul and redeem it…” Psalm 69:13-18a [NASB]
We went through the motions of all the right things throughout the night, but I remained trapped in the flood. It was no doubt compounded by Satan’s constant whispering with every firework explosion that the entire world was celebrating but us. The five of us (that’s painful to write every single time, five not six) piled on our bed at around 11ish, we circled up and held hands as Scott, the ever faithful rock and leader of our family, led us in prayer and we wept together. I’d love to report that it was immediately all better, out of the pit and back on solid ground of optimism and hope, but I would be lying. It did enable us to at least stop weeping and close our eyes to attempt to sleep, though.
While it was still dark I could bear it no longer, I had to once again seek the Lord, I needed Him to speak His encouragement to me. I read some in the Word, but then was prompted to pull out one of Sarah’s journals. She had underlined something that she wrote, it leapt off the page at me, “Jesus was overwhelmed with grief.” I immediately flipped to the passage she was studying, Matthew 26:38-39.
“Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.’ And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.'” Matthew 26:38-39 [NASB]
It is of great comfort to us as believers that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are (Hebrews 4:15), and that He understands exactly what we are going through. This matters greatly because He is our high priest who intercedes for us, the person who intercedes best for us is the person who has walked our path and knows our pain. As I read the passage Sarah had written, it suddenly washed over me. I had a silent, tucked away thought I never would have given voice to, but in His tender, gracious, merciful way He addressed it for me. Over the past week the unwelcome thought had entered my mind on several occasions, each time I tried to quickly suppress it. That insidious thought that kept creeping in was that Jesus couldn’t relate to this particular pain and temptation I was enduring. He didn’t have a child, then have that child die and have to look forward to living the rest of His days on earth without that child. He experienced the deep pain of the death of Lazarus which caused Him to weep, but I have experienced the loss of a very dear friend and it is so very different than the loss of my child. I was trusting His Word to be true, but fighting doubt that He experienced on earth and really knows the pain of my heart. (I know the Father sacrificially gave the Son, but I am specifically speaking here of Christ as our high priest interceding on our behalf).
As I read and reread Matthew 26:38-39, it was like a healing balm washing over me. He said exactly what I repeatedly told Scott last night. My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death, and I long for this cup to pass from me. Sarah was right, “Jesus was overwhelmed with grief,” just as I am overwhelmed with grief. He was tempted just as I am now, and He knows my pain. He knows how to intercede for me, and he will do so continually and faithfully as He lives to make intercession for me.
“but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25 [NASB]
In His perfect Word He also simultaneously addressed a second fear I have been battling. I know how very much the prayers of our church family here and abroad have carried us. At the same time I know everyone else is gradually going back to normal, and as they do we will gradually slip out of thoughts and prayers. This morning He has shown me He even understands that as well, He knows my longing and He also knows the sting of that longing unfulfilled. He told the disciples, I suspicion with pleading in His voice, “remain here and keep watch with Me.” He found Himself praying alone in the garden that night, but I never will. He has so tenderly shown me that He does indeed know my pain. He understands and intercedes bearing my pain in His heart. Whether twenty-eight days, twenty-eight months or twenty-eight years, I will never pray alone, He will continually pray for me and with me. So today I find comfort in confidently clinging to Him at the throne of grace. My precious Savior and Lord who knows my pain, constantly intercedes for me and will never leave me nor forsake me.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 [NASB]
Quiet Time September 23, 2015
Matthew 26/ Hebrews 13
- When the disciples were angry about Mary pouring the perfume on Jesus, Jesus said, “You will always have the poor, but you will not always have me”
- The Lord’s supper is about remembering what He’s done for us.
- Matthew 26:38-39: “Then He said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther He fell with His face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
- Jesus was overwhelmed with grief.
- Matthew 26:41b: “The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”
- (verse 50) Jesus called Judas friend even as he was betraying him.
- Hebrews 13:1-2: “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
- When someone is mistreated think of it as yourself being mistreated.
- God will never leave us or forsake us.
- Hebrews 13:6: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?'”
- Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
- Hebrews 13:15
~ Sarah Harmening
Disclaimer for all the excitable theology critics out there (I totally relate to you): I know Jesus was facing the weight of the sins of the world being placed on His shoulders, and the withdrawal of the presence of the Father. I know my pain does not compare to His experience and sacrifice. I also realize there are many other Biblical constructs to address the fear and hurt I was/am having, I’m pretty sure I have already meditated on most of them. This was simply the way my precious Savior and Lord spoke to my heart to comfort me and encourage me today.