Everyday Encounter with God

Pastor Sylvia's Encounters with God in the Midst of Everyday Life


The Sting of Abandonment

I’m not always sure what causes friends and loved ones to let each other down. Do we expect too much? Do we make our requests too softly? These past ten days while I’ve been recovering from knee replacement surgery, a few people who say they love me have been noticeably absent.

While living with the sting of their “radio silence,” I have had time to catch up on social media. One saying sent to me the week before surgery declared, “You can tell who really loves you by who shows up when you need them.” This could have fed my hurt feelings; it didn’t. While it sounds true, couldn’t it be a condemnation of us all at one time or another?

No one could have loved our Lord more than Peter, James, and John. But immediately before his arrest, they abandoned him when Jesus needed them most.

Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

Anguishing under the pain of what would soon befall him, Jesus asked his three best friends to stay awake and sit with him. His request was both clear and reasonable. He would soon be tortured unto death. He wanted nothing more than to feel the love and comfort of the men who had walked beside him from the very beginning.

Peter, James, and John let him down; they fell asleep.

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

A second time these friends failed Jesus in his distress.

So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going.” (Matt 26:36-46)

Peter, James, and John let Jesus down. Their failure was not because they didn’t love him. It was simply part of the human experience. We all miss opportunities to be present with those we love in their moments of need. But Jesus came along and said in essence, “That moment is gone forever. But now it is time to get up and go to the next thing.”

Oswald Chambers wrote, “The disciples, in this instance, had done a downright unthinkable thing—they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus. But our Lord says if we are inspired by him, we must move on to the next thing.”

Again Jesus modeled for us the importance of releasing today’s hurt feelings. Tomorrow we will look back and see how truly trivial they were.