The texts this week speak of struggle, exile, grief, and pain experienced by God's people. Many of God's faithful people have felt abandoned or forgotten by God in a time of deep crisis or pain. If people would be totally open about their feelings, many more would admit to this deep struggle of the soul. People often feel guilty if they admit to feeling abandoned by God in a time of grief or pain. We are supposed to be strong and courageous as we face life's challenges and sorrows. What will people say if we express our real feelings about God?
Yet, the Psalms have many laments where people feel abandoned by God. Job felt God was silent or even his enemy. As the death of his wife neared, C. S. Lewis was reminded by friends that God knew and God was present. Lewis replied, "I know God knows and is near, but does God care?" Sometimes people struggle with the same questions as Lewis. Today we are reminded of a time when Jesus also felt abandoned by God. If at some time in your life you have felt abandoned by God, do not feel guilty. God can take your feelings and questions. Be honest, if not with your loved ones or friends, at least with God. God's presence and love go deeper than our momentary feelings and despair.
Gracious God, there are times when it is really difficult to sense your presence and care. In those times, speak to us through your Word or others, and assure us we are safe in your arms. Amen.
Matthew 26:31-45 (NRSV)
31 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
32 But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee."
33 Peter said to him, "Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you."
34 Jesus said to him, "Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times."
35 Peter said to him, "Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples.
36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated.
38 Then he said to them, "I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me."
39 And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want."
40 Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not stay awake with me one hour?
41 Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
42 Again he went away for the second time and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done."
43 Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.
44 So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.