“Abba Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me.” (Mark 14:36)
We may be familiar with these words of Jesus which he uttered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was no doubt aware of what he was about to face – total rejection, false accusations, physical beatings and a tortuous death. Some commentators say he was also feeling the total weight of all of the sin of the world, past and present.
We might take comfort that in his human nature Jesus is asking God to spare him this agony and pain. He is showing us that there is nothing wrong with asking God to be relieved of pain and suffering, so long as we are willing to trust God for the answer. Jesus follows up his request with, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
He ended up trusting the Father that what he was enduring involved God’s plan for the salvation of the human race.
We all have or will face trials involving either physical or emotional pain. It may be the debilitating side effects of chemo therapy, watching a child suffer through a terminal disease, or the loss of a job and our economic security.
This past week I attended the funeral of Jim, a friend and brother in Christ who died from ALS, a neurological disease resulting in the eventual loss of all voluntary muscle movement. While Jim’s family and friends prayed for his healing, Jim submitted his condition to God’s will. Although ALS diminished what he was able to do, he told everyone he could still pray and invited people to send him their needs for prayer. Over this past year many people sent Jim various requests, which Jim kept track of on a spread sheet as he faithfully and repeatedly prayed for each need.
We asked Jim to pray for a particular need for our adult daughter with Down syndrome. We have seen notable progress in this need both before and since his death.
Jim was Presbyterian. He had many Catholic friends. At both his wake and funeral the spirit of Christian unity was absolutely palpable, for what was evident to everyone was that here was a man who had truly fulfilled the prophet Micah’s entreaty, “to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Who can know the mind of God? “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor.2:9)