Jesus, I try to keep moving forward through what can seem like impassable mountains. Even with the support of others, I sometimes feel lonely and isolated. When those feelings surface, I fall. I lose hope, I lash out at the very people I want to keep nearest to me. I lose my temper, I lose my strength, and sometimes it feels like I lose my very will.
Yet, I know I must move on.
I wonder how it was for you in this second fall. Did you close your eyes and think, ‘Why won’t they just let me die? Why must I get up; for what purpose must I endure this journey?’
But you did get up. Did you perhaps understand that your suffering transcended your humanity — that it went beyond the immediacy of your pain in order to serve something greater than your own wishes?
Were you ‘fulfilling your destiny’ or were you showing us that life must be embraced in all of its forms — in shadow and in light — in order to be lived with a fullness of purpose and thus a fullness of joy?
It is a mystery to me, sometimes, why you wouldn’t simply lash out and unleash the power of your tongue, verbally striking out at those around you. But you did not.
Help me, Lord. Help me overturn my own instincts to ‘strike out’ at those around me. Help me find the key to this mystery and embrace my life in all of its forms, in its shadows and in its light.
For it is not as if we had a high priest who was incapable of feeling our weaknesses with us; be we have one who has been tempted in every way that we are, though he is without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Jesus, your words to the women of Jerusalem always take me aback: ‘Weep not for me, but for yourselves and for your children.’ (Luke 23:28) And why did you give this warning: ‘If these things happen when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?’ (Luke 23:31)
When times are good and the world seems green and full of promise, even then my faith has not always been all it could be. My surrender has been incomplete.
When times are dry and feelings of despair and isolation are overwhelming, I call to you. I know that I should trust, but I also realize that with trust must come acceptance, and acceptance is hard.
To surrender and to trust — difficult things. How totally must I surrender to your protection? How deep is your mercy? How wide and sure is your embrace? As wide as a lifetime? As sure as a wooden cross?
Help me, Jesus, to surrender to your embrace and your help with my own arms flung wide open, regretting my self-centeredness and my own human folly, to think that I could travel without our lead.
Give me the gift of faith, Lord, renewed, refreshed and green, as your psalmist promised.
[A person who delights in the law of the Lord] is like a tree planted near running water, that yields its fruit in due season, and whose leaves never fade. (Psalm 1:3)
Jesus, did you feel only weariness in this third fall, or did you also succumb to the temptation to despair, to give feeling to that enemy of hope?
Sometimes I despair, too. I suppose it’s only human to think ‘there can be no good end to this — there can be no good gained in these painful and sad circumstances.’
And yet, isn’t that precisely what you have been teaching me on this journey? That no matter how bleak things look, no matter what lies immediately ahead, we will find as we move forward that all things work for the glory of God? That peace comes in surprising ways? That some kinds of death can bring about some kinds of healing? That redemption and a fullness of mercy are always, continually, being offered?
As I acknowledge my own exhaustion, I am wondering what greater purpose is being served, here. How might I be helping to bring about your reign in my own small life, in my own weary but not despairing heart?
I know that I have been created by love, and that my creation matters, and serves your purpose.
O, help me, Jesus, to be attuned to what God wants of me, that I might understand my own role in this world, and in God’s plan.
The life and death of each of us has its influence on others; if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord. (Romans 14:7-9)