"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." ~ Jesus (Matthew 26:38)
One thing is certain, when I was pregnant with cancer, I felt overwhelmed with sorrow. Fear crept into my life overnight, and wrestled with my thoughts for 10 years while I battled illness after illness. Sometimes I thought I was the only one, until I read that the most perfect man who ever lived experienced sorrow to the point of death.
Sorrow, then, isn't a sin.
It's an emotion that tells us we have a beating heart when we face insurmountable despair.
So what did Jesus do? He surrounded himself with his closest friends, his disciples, and asked them to keep watch and pray while he slipped away to plea with His Father. The King James Version of the Bible says Jesus was very heavy and that His soul exceeded sorrowful.
This means there wasn't a word strong enough to explain His extreme distress. The only comfort He experienced was to fall face forward and pray to His Father (verse 39).
Many times, that's the best we can do. Surrender those thoughts and emotions and fears to God over and over. Christ even asked for the cup to be taken from Him—a concept that simply means "Is there another way?"
In His case, there wasn't. His death was required for salvation, but that doesn't mean he was spared any pain.
Begging God for a different way, that's what Christ displayed. This brings us great comfort in knowing that repeating our fears and concerns and desires to God is not only acceptable, it was modeled for us by our Savior. In fact, Christ prayed with such fervency that blood fell from his pores in place of perspiration (Luke 22:44). This rare condition, hematidrosis, occurs when the small blood vessels surrounding the sweat glands rupture from extreme amounts of stress.
Christ knew the pain He was about to endure. However, He asked for God's will to be done, surrendering His fear to the Father.
But that wasn't the end. Christ begged a second and third time for deliverance.
Keep begging. Keep calling out to God. We have the perfect model from the perfect man.
Has your soul exceeded sorrowful to the point no word adequately explains the suffering you're experiencing? Continue calling out to God, ask friends for prayer, and relinquish those fears at His feet. You're never alone in your pain–Christ knows exactly what you're experiencing.
"Lord, I need you. My heart aches from the fear of my situation. I don't understand why I'm going through this. All I know to do is mimic the example you gave when Christ faced his greatest fear. Please fill my soul with your peace and surround me with friends who who can pray me through this difficult time. I desire your will in my life, even though this uncertainty scares me beyond anything I've experienced. I'm trying to learn to trust in you. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Dabney Hedegard is the author of When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers). Visit her at dabneyland.com or on Twitter: @dabneyland
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