It’s not easy to find hope in the midst of darkness. But Christ knows our sufferings, and as we meditate on Christ’s surrender in the Agony in the Garden, we find our hope remains in the risen Lord. (Trigger warning – this post contains discussion of child loss.)
God has been a fickle friend.
To explain what I mean, I need to go back to January of 2017 when toddler Joy Loboda fell into a pool and drowned. By the time she was revived at the hospital, Joy had been without a heartbeat for roughly thirty minutes.
Her prognosis was poor; her survival in question. Terrified, Joy’s parents reached out for prayers. They were desperate for a miracle, and they got one.
Joy made a full recovery.
But God has been a fickle friend.
In late August 2015, the toddler son of a family in my greater homeschool community had a tragic accident. We prayed. We fasted. We begged for a miracle.
The little guy didn’t survive.
Eighteen months later, the toddler son of another family in my greater homeschool fell ill to a previously undetected medical condition. We prayed. We fasted. We begged God for a miracle.
The little guy didn’t make it.
The double devastation has been hard to take. Infectious giggles have been silenced; fiery smiles have been extinguished. I look at my own son, just two himself, and my motherhood smacks of stolen moments.
I could have lost him the day he fell in the kitchen, but I didn’t.
The Loboda’s could have lost Joy the day she fill in the pool, but they didn’t.
God could have saved the other little boys.
But he didn’t.
God has been a fickle friend
Finding Hope in the Midst of Darkness
I’ve paid a little more attention to the Gospels this Lent than I normally do. Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing Letters of Love, or maybe I’m just growing in my spiritual life (or maybe it’s both). But I’ve noticed something over these last five weeks.
There’s a whole lot God doesn’t do.
Since the beginning of this Lenten season, we’ve seen him most clearly in the person of Christ. We’ve certainly seen him perform signs and miracles, but we’ve also seen him behave like a man.
A human man.
A human man with free will and fears and emotions and disturbances and everything else we experience in our daily lives.
Think about it:
Jesus could have destroyed Satan in the desert, but he didn’t.
Jesus could have brought water from the well, but he didn’t.
Jesus could have broken apart the stone, torn away the burial cloth, and pulled Lazarus straight out of the tomb.
But he didn’t.
Instead, Jesus embraced the humanity God gave him. Even as he healed the sick, challenged the lukewarm and forgave the wayward sinner, Jesus didn’t overstep the bounds of his human obligation to the Father.
Everything he did glorified God, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus knew what was coming.
The night before his crucifixion, he knelt at the foot of the Mount of Olives and prayed with a ferocity that made him sweat blood.
Jesus didn’t want to die.
He was desperate for his own miracle.
But in the midst of his terror and anguish and despair, the desire for surrender was stronger.
He had the power to choose self preservation.
He had the desire to choose the Father’s will.
Sometimes God calls us to great and heavy crosses. They are unbearable in their suffering and unimaginable in their scope. We mark their existence in hushed, guarded tones, hardening our hearts against the impending tide.
But like Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, our hope lies in the promise – not the immediate. It waits for us in the embrace of God’s will, in our quiet surrender in the face of great trial.
Christ holds us in our own Agony in the Garden.
He steadies our hands, dries our tears, and wipes our anguish away. While the miracle he longed for never came, he knew it would be followed by one far greater.
God is not a fickle friend.
He is steadfast and constant.
Let our hope remain in the risen Lord.