Introduction to Our Day of Prayer and Fasting Guest blogger: Patsy Weinberg
“Why would God allow me to suffer?”
“Does God really know what I’m going through?”
“I know Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross to save me from my sins, and I appreciate that, but how does the suffering he went through on the cross help me deal with ___?”
These are just a few of the questions that came to my mind as Gene explained the focus of our Easter season and as we brainstormed ideas to pray through in order to create the guide that follows. As I prayed, searched Scripture, and researched works by people more learned, more experienced, and more mature than I, I was drawn again and again to the writings of Max Lucado. I own several of his books, all of which are dog-eared and filled with notes and underlines, and I felt very confident these excerpts were on the right track.
The questions above plus others I can imagine you asking are too important for me to muddle through. You deserve a better grasp than I can provide. So, in this, my tenth opportunity to collaborate with Gene to lead Legacy in a time of prayer, for the first time, these words are straight from the author’s work. I’ve thrown in a periodic question or comment, but the vast majority of what follows is straight from Mr. Lucado.
We’ll look at 3 events together, but I encourage you to spend additional time reading the scriptural accounts to see the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual suffering Jesus endured just for you and for me.
The fog of a broken heart. It’s a dark fog that slyly imprisons the soul and refuses easy escape. It’s a silent mist that eclipses the sun and beckons the darkness. It’s a heavy cloud that honors no hour and respects no person. Depression, discouragement, disappointment, doubt…all are companions of this dreaded presence. (No Wonder They Call Him Savior, 129)
If you have ever been betrayed by a friend, you know what I mean. If you have ever been dumped by a spouse or abandoned by a parent, you have seen this fog. If you have ever placed a spade of dirt on a loved one’s casket or kept vigil at a dear one’s bedside, you, too, recognize this cloud. (Savior, 129)
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Maybe you’ve seen the classic portrait of Christ in the garden. Kneeling beside a big rock. Snow-white robe. Hands peacefully folded in prayer. A look of serenity on his face. Halo over his head. A spotlight from heaven illuminating his golden-brown hair...Now, I’m no artist, but I can tell you one thing. The man who painted that picture didn’t use the gospel of Mark as a pattern. Look what Mark wrote about that painful night. (Savior, 131)
Read Mark 14: 32-42.
Look at Jesus again: “filled with horror and deep distress”, “crushed with grief to the point of death”, “fell face down”, “cup of suffering”, “pleadings.” (Savior, 132)
Does this look like the picture of a saintly Jesus resting in the palm of God? Hardly. Mark used black paint to describe this scene. We see an agonizing, straining, and struggling Jesus. We see a “man of sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3) We see a man struggling with fear, wrestling with commitments, and yearning for relief. We see Jesus in the fog of a broken heart.
The next time the fog finds you, you might do well to remember Jesus in the garden. The next time you think that no one understands, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to him pleading among the twisted trees. (Savior, 132-33)
Are you or is someone you love in the middle of the fog? Betrayed? Abandoned? Illness? Jobless? Do you face the fear of the unknown, or, like Jesus, the fear of the known? Spend some time praying with the honesty of a broken heart, and then listen and look, trusting the one in the garden to lead you out of the fog.