Maybe you’ve seen the classic portrait of Christ in the garden; Kneeling beside a big rock, snow-white robe, hands peacefully folded in prayer, a look of serenity on his face, halo over his head, a spotlight from heaven illuminating his golden-brown hair.
When Mark wrote about that painful night, he used phrases like these: “Horror and dismay came over him.” “My heart is ready to break with grief.” “He went a little forward and threw himself on the ground.”
Does this look like the picture of a saintly Jesus resting in the palm of God? Hardly. We see an agonizing, straining, and struggling Jesus. We see a “man of sorrows.” (Isaiah 53:3 NASB) We see a man struggling with fear, wrestling with commitments, and yearning for relief.
We see Jesus in the fog of a broken heart.
The writer of Hebrews would later pen, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.” (Hebrews 5:7 NIV)
My, what a portrait! Jesus is in pain. Jesus is on the stage of fear. Jesus is cloaked, not in sainthood, but in humanity.
The next time you think that no one understands, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark. The next time your self-pity convinces you that no one cares, pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to him pleading among the twisted trees.
The next time you are called to suffer, pay attention. It may be the closest you’ll ever get to God. Watch closely. It could very well be that the hand that extends itself to lead you out of the fog is a pierced one.