"'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,'
he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.'"
Mark 14:34 (NIV)
Not long ago, my wife, Heidi, and I were privileged to go to Anchorage, Alaska, for the Beauty For Ashes training which equips leaders and participants to respond to abuse, trauma, and neglect. The participants in the seminar are people from all over the U.S., and a few from Canada, and the majority of those who shared in our large group meetings were Alaska Natives. We also had small group time where we heard each other’s stories and practiced responding.
The stories we heard we promised not to share with others, but even if I cannot share the specific content, I can assure you they were absolutely horrific. Even though we believe, teach, and confess that humanity is sinful, and nothing good exists inside us, it is quite another thing to have the evidence staring at you point-blank in the face. During and after the seminar, I felt extremely sad and heavy-hearted.
How much more sad and heavy, it must have been for Jesus on this night of his betrayal! Not only was he hearing the stories of shame, guilt, and sin of eight other people, but the sin of the whole world was staring him in the face. Soon, He would not just listen to the effects of that sin, but pay the price for it. Where my sorrow diminished shortly after the seminar, Jesus went beyond the point of death and actually entered into death. Even after his death, he still bore the scars sin laid on him (John 20:27).
Knowing that Christ has gone through all of this for our salvation does not solve the problem of suffering, but it certainly gives us the assurance that no other religious system in the world does: God has suffered. God knows what it is like to be overwhelmed with sorrow. God knows what it is like to be terminally ill. God knows what it is like to be abused. Whatever suffering humanity has gone through, God knows.
I thank you, Lord, that you suffered all that I might be forgiven and brought back from death. Comfort me in my own suffering to know you are with me, and you know what it is like to be sad and betrayed. Amen.