LUKE 22:41-44 (NIV) | "[Jesus] withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
Sorrow, grief, suffering, anguish, and anxiety. These are words we are all familiar with to differing degrees. Reading the passage where Jesus was in such deep anguish that he sweat drops of blood, I see that he was familiar with sorrow too.
Sorrow and grief are experiences that we neither comfortably hold nor easily welcome. Jesus himself asked the Father if he was willing to take the cup of suffering from him. We have all experienced different circumstances through which we have encountered sorrow. There have been times when I have compared my sorrow with others as a way of consolation. Sometimes, seeing the suffering of others gives us perspective and can keep us from the narrow vision of our own sorrow. But it is important, I believe, to embrace and experience our own grief in the company of Jesus without comparing and dismissing it as we see others struggle with their own sorrows.
Trying to circumvent the valley of sorrow has not worked for me. Jesus has promised to walk with us in the valley of the shadow of death and in other valleys of sorrow. Walking and crossing the valley of sorrows with Jesus means entrusting the pace to him, entrusting the place where we can overcome the sorrow, and entrusting the fruit of the sorrow to him too.
So, let us walk across the valley knowing that he is crossing it with us!
I have seen and experienced the resources of heaven in times of deep anguish and sorrow. This is the part of overcoming sorrow with Jesus that I have seen as supernatural. Jesus himself was strengthened by an angel from heaven, and we will be strengthened with diverse resources from heaven as well. This includes the illogical and supernatural peace and joy that he gives, as well as gratitude, hope, and, yes, even angels to comfort and encourage. So, let us ask for the resources from heaven!
I have seen and experienced, too, that overcoming sorrow looks like an aggregate of what I like to call “mini-overcomings.” Sometimes, we expect to overcome sorrow once and for all, but the reality is that sometimes overcoming sorrow is a daily provision from God much like manna (Exodus 16). Sometimes, overcoming sorrow is deciding to persevere; it can look like a baby step or a big step. Overcoming sorrow means strengthening our love relationship with our Father. Many times, it is more about our relationship with him than something else that we are supposed to learn in order to check off our list.
Sorrow has confronted me much in the last years. I was privileged to walk with a dear missionary family in Spain and with their sweet and brave daughter who recently died of cancer. Closer to home, sorrow visited me in the sudden death of my beloved father. In this season of walking through the valley of tears, I am embracing the mini-overcomings, and I can be certain that it will become a place of springs, a place of new life!
REFLECT AND RESPOND
- If you are experiencing areas of sorrow, how would you describe your sorrow? Ask the Lord to give you an image or a word to describe it.
- What are some ways you have tried to overcome your sorrow? What is Jesus inviting you to embrace or to let go of about those ways in which you have tried to overcome sorrow?
- What resources of heaven are you lacking? Ask the Lord to show you what he has in store for you.
- What fruit or new life can you name which has sprung forth from your sorrows?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Doralicia Gonzales and her husband, Randy, have served with CRM since 1997. They began their work in Venezuela, then Costa Rica, and now live in Málaga, Spain. Doralicia works with CRM’s Ethne collective, walking alongside emerging and missional leaders. She and Randy live in Málaga with their two daughters, Abigail and Sophia.
This piece was originally shared in CRM’s 2015 “Small Feet Big Shoes” devotional series.