Thoughts from Jesus in the garden: friends disappoint.

Let’s look for some comfort for grieving people in some of the scenes of the last few days of Jesus’ life. Let’s look at Him as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-41; Matt 26:36-46; Luke 22:39-46). He went to pray because He was deeply distressed and overwhelmed with sorrow. He asked for the support of friends – to watch with Him, to pray with and for Him. They disappointed Him. Could that describe you in your grief – overwhelmed, asking for support and disappointed? If you spent any time in the hospital with your child it probably does describe you, at least some of the time. If your child died suddenly, maybe this wasn’t your experience before he or she died. But maybe it has been your experience since his death. Jesus’ friends couldn’t stay with the task of support and prayer, even though they loved Him very much. They just couldn’t pray earnestly and long enough.  You may have asked for different kinds of help during the final illness of your child or since his death. Your friends may have left before you even got to this point of need. But if they stayed in your life, they may have actually wanted to help, but somehow they disappointed you. Perhaps from exhaustion, perhaps from pain – their own as they faced the death of your child, or pain from seeing your pain – they couldn’t endure. Just like Jesus’ friends.

Perhaps they counseled you to pray a certain way or to see a different doctor or to take a certain herb or other ill-considered advice that just didn’t help at the time. Jesus’ friend, Peter, also gave Him some bad advice at this time (attack the soldiers with swords). They may have fallen asleep literally or figuratively. They may have just faded away or stopped calling you to find out the latest. Jesus was disappointed that they couldn’t stay awake and pray. The second time, he acknowledged that they were tired. The third time, He just told them it’s all over, it’s time and confronted the betrayers. Jesus realized He had to face His future alone. The friends couldn’t take it away or change the path the Father laid before Him. Your friends too, may have the best of intentions, but just can’t stay with you long enough. Nor were they able to change the course of your child’s illness or life.

Unlike Jesus, there are other helps you can find.

  • BASIS or another support group. (In a later blog I’ll share why I believe in the gathering together of people who have lost a child and what they can do together for each other.)
  • A Bible study that focuses on the presence of God or on what it means to suffer in this fallen world.
  • Certain books or websites on grief.
  • Others who have walked this road before you. Your hope can be boosted just by seeing that someone else has survived their loss! 

Like Jesus, even though your friends disappoint you, you do have the Father who is always present, listening to your heart’s deepest groaning. Since there are so many similarities between your experience and His, you can know that Jesus knows what it’s like to go through this valley of the shadow of death. He understands the disappointment friends can inflict on your hurting heart. Jesus knows and cares. So do I.   

In the next couple of blogs, we will seek more comfort from the Easter passages of Scripture.