Ever Feel Like Your Friends Are Sleeping?
By Pat Badstibner
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”[a] 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? – Mark 14:32-38
Have you ever felt like nobody was listening, that you were alone, that everyone was sleeping. If you’re like me – you have been that one sleeping or wished you were, come on, be honest.
All of us have been there when it seemed that all of hell was raging against us and we looked around for our friends and it seemed as though they were sleeping. We have all been there when the hurricanes have entered our life and we look around and it seems that everyone is finding shelter, everyone but us, and they forgot to tell us where the shelter was.
There is also a good chance depending on how we normally handle anguish that they may very well be sleeping or took the last ride out of town with the hopes that we are sleeping and missed the ride. It is comforting to know that Christ felt and knew this same pain.
What We Never Share
We never share, that often why we are looking for them to listen or to be there is not always just because we need the help, but that we need the verification. We need to know that we matter, that we are wanted, that someone really cares, that we are important enough and special enough that in the dark hours or heated moments someone will be there.
The difference between Christ and us though, is while Christ wanted to know the comfort of His friends standing beside Him in His deepest time of need, it did not push Him to throw up His hands and to say “That’s it, if no one cares, why should I.” He did not abandon the mission and we are glad he did not. Often when we feel no one cares we sulk, vent, rage, sign up for the local play for the part of the ostrich and a whole host of other feelings.
Why We Don’t Often Share, Depend Or Tell Others
Because we secretly believe that if we tell anyone about our problems or how baked we feel from the heat of everyday living we fear that if they were not sleeping already, that they will soon wish they were. Even worse if we bring up our struggles we fear we will either get a sermon or a word on how to “buckle up for the ride.”
Often those giving such words do not realize that our seat belts broke a long time ago and are no longer functioning. As a result in giving such words we are just left feeling more helpless than we did before speaking up.
So, we keep our pains, our hurts, our frustrations, our doubts, our fears to ourselves, less we get a lesson in how to tie our shoelaces so that they do not come untied and cause us to trip. Worse yet, they even offer to tie our shoes for us, making us feel even worse, as “sheesh we are not even big enough to tie our shoes properly.”
When this happens, the laws of adequacy and capability have just left us feeling like complete failures. So, rather than risk feeling like more of a failure than we already are, we keep everything bottled in.
Only problem with this is that sometime, somewhere all such feelings must come out and when they do, even a skunk will seem sweeter smelling compared to our verbal barrage unleashed on the poor suffering fellow pilgrim we have just now enlisted or tried to enlist to go on this journey with us.
What’s The Answer
So, what do we do when everything feels like the Titanic has re-sunk again in our lives, when we fear that no one may indeed care enough to keep from nodding off, as we share. Worse yet, how do we keep from unloading such a tirade on a poor unsuspecting brother or sister that even moldy Limburger cheese will smell better than what is coming out of us at that moment...
Wisdom Even In Pain
Notice in the passage we pointed to in the beginning that Christ did two significant things, one He got alone with God and expressed His fear, real fear. The second thing He did is that He took his three closest friends and did not invite everyone to be first hand witness of HIS time of desperation.
So, we should first get alone and pray and then draw close to those in our life, those who that even in OUR darkest hour will be standing with tears in their eyes as they see your pain, then be willing to be scary honest, seen at OUR worst, this is freedom.
God Intends For A Purpose
The more that we draw into God’s truths and remind ourselves of the truths of the gospel, who we are in Christ and how deeply we are loved it will free us to no longer be afraid to wail like Jeremiah, question like Job, cry out like David, in order that all the pain we are meant to know, that we will know it, in it’s entirety. God has a purpose for us to feel that pain for all its intent, to know that what we feel is very real (2 Corinthians 1:8-11). Trying to cover it with syrup will not deaden, sweeten or make any less the pain we feel.
Feel it and feel it for everything that it is worth. We see in this passage that we have a Saviour who knows pain as He cried “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” then He pleaded with God, if there is any other way, please remove this.
Christ did not soften or sugar coat His pain and neither should we. For unless we allow ourselves to feel it for what it is, we truly will never be allowed to be healed from it. Pretending it’s not real or hurts less than it does, does nothing, but allow us to go on living faux lives of being mask wearing saints who pretend that everything in the world smells like roses, instead of rotten cabbage.
Designed and Permitted In His Sovereignty
God has designed that pain, that suffering (Philippians 1:29), that heartache to drive us to Him, unless we feel it for what it is, it will only accomplish half of it’s purpose, if any at all. So, let it drive us to cry out in real pain, in real agony to the only one who can truly listen, so WE discover that with Him lies the HOPE of shade for heated days (Isaiah 4:6) and time with no end.
It is here that as we tire, become weary, (Matthew 11:28) from such efforts we discover that it has been Jesus all along standing there holding us up. Keeping the pieces of the situation from wiping us out completely, not our spiritual disciplines. Those disciplines serve to awaken us, reveal to us, help us grow in our understanding and wisdom (Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9) of the reality of the truths of the gospel of grace, not as the power to move forward. A reality that points to an eternity of being known and knowing in tomorrow upon tomorrows. This is why Paul said he would boast in his weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), why he said not in his own competency to endure, get stronger or become better at handling the raging winds ( 2 Corinthians 3:4-6).
Tomorrow upon Tomorrow’s
The progression of moving from feeling deep pain to beginning to believe that God has a purpose is a process that is as varied with each circumstance and with every person, but slowly we are able as the Holy Spirit surprises us with moments of awe and overwhelming sensations of comfort.
Perhaps, it is meeting an old friend, a sunset or sunrise, a piece of music, laughter, an unexpected privilege, a good book, an insight into His Word, The Holy Spirit uses many things to renew our strength (Psalms 103:5). It is in those moments that we know and understand why Paul said, he was compelled by love to keep moving forward (2 Corinthians 5:14).
As, the Holy Spirit whispers (1 Kings 19:11-13) in our ears He points back (John 16:12-15) to the One that cried out in the garden, that agonized on the cross, that suffered complete separation, and reminds us of the hope of tomorrow upon tomorrows. It is here where He reminds us that He is our promise (Ephesians 4:30) of an eternity without suffering. It is that hope of tomorrows upon tomorrows, in which we will be held and embraced by our Husband, that allows us to move through those dark nights with only that promise.
It is those arms that we find HOPE of rescue. When we retain our view of a promised tomorrow that knows no end we will reach for a grace that gives us the strength to utter sometimes what is nothing more than a guttural prayer. A prayer of Lord help has more letting go and an awareness that it is about His purpose than one that looks a whole lot more like us rubbing the magic lamp.
The Prayer Of Pain
In a prayer of few words, that is a result of the pain being so overwhelming that no more than a few can come out we find the ability to let go of our faux need to control the circumstances. We also find in such prayers that the need for circumstances to go our way, has gone away.
So, the need to control the circumstances has usually been given away to, your will be done. It is as the pain pushes us to this point, that we finally begin to see that the light glimmering ahead is the beginning of those tomorrow upon tomorrows. Once we no longer fear tomorrow, we no longer have to be concerned with “What If’s” or “Maybe’s” or “If Only” and we no longer need our friends to approve us, to tell us positive things about us, we need and only covet their prayers.
The beauty of the grace that we are now reaching for is that it disrobes us of all self-salvation, self-reclamation, self-awareness, layer by layer, for it is in those, that fear is found. We believe it is up to us, that we have to do it. We are afraid if anyone sees how we are really doing, they will only grab the first plane out, but will secretly be found ROFL. (Rolling on the floor with laughter.) Yet, as we remind ourselves of the truths of the gospel of grace we discover more and more not only why perfect love drives our fear, but that it drives us to the ONE who has always stood there holding out arms of passionate love, who can do it (1John 4:16-19).
As long as we hold our constant wondering of the “What If’s” and “If Only’s” we will find it hard to accept that the pain we are experiencing is how God intends for what actually happened to move us to being ready for eternity.
We No Longer Just Need, But Can Give
As we let go, we realize that we don’t have to “Buckle Up”, and that our very sanity does not rest on whether our friends can stay awake long enough to listen, but on the knowledge and acceptance that our Father truly does love us even in the midst of the darkest night, even if we are the cause of it (Jeremiah 31:20). When our friends sense and see a peace that emits a soothing, sweet smelling aroma it may just leave them going “How can they be so peaceful in the midst of such pain.”
The secret is in knowing that no fact is truer than we are loved by a Holy Father who daydreams about what we will be, how He will show us real joy and how He will return us back to our original purpose and design, to find that joy in making HIM preeminent. Because our affections have awakened to these truths, no disaster stands as strong, no devastation need carry out its purpose of devastating us like it might others.
Instead of dumping feelings that cause our friends to run for the air freshener, we are able to share in the midst of our deepest pain with them that we are blessed to feel it to its fullest, but at the same time of knowing such heart wrenching pain, we have the ability to know peace.
A peace that lifts others out of their mire, rather than becoming an oppressive burden on our friends. A peace that comes from knowing that because our Father loves us so much (Jeremiah 31:3-5) that He is willing to design suffering in our lives that pains Him deeply, in order that we might know the joy He has designed us to know. A joy that doesn’t come because someone gave us something, our circumstances changed, life got better, but in spite, it comes simply because HE IS GOD ALMIGHTY and He finds His deepest glory in loving us.
Without, such knowledge even the truest words of the most aware, ardent friends will only fall on deaf ears. For until we come to accept that God is the most passionate lover we will ever know, all our friends can really do is pray, any words spread may sound like nothing more to us than a loud snore.