He came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples followed him. When he reached the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground. When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?” Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!
Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house. But Peter was following at a distance. When they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. Then a servant-girl, seeing him in the firelight, stared at him and said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” A little later someone else, on seeing him, said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, “Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about!” At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Being a follower of Jesus is hard. Like the disciples we want to love Him more than anything, but we fail. We fall asleep in His hour of need, we attack His betrayers, we deny even knowing Him. Peter followed Jesus because he loved Him so much that he was desperate to know what was happening. But he was also afraid. We spend our whole lives like Peter, trying to do the right thing but failing.
The good news is that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. Jesus told the disciples to pray they wouldn’t come in to the time of trial, probably in part because he knew they would fail. But God also forgives our mistakes. Even during His arrest Jesus had already forgiven those who persecuted Him. He healed the slaves ear! I’ve never read (or maybe never noticed) that particular miracle before, and it might be the most moving one of them all. What a mind boggling example of how we should forgive!
So when we do come in to the time of trial, when we fail to be the kind of Christians we want to be, we should follow Jesus’s example. 1. Pray. Talk to God. Tell Him your fears. 2. Let God be in charge. “Not my will but Yours” can be a very powerful prayer. Recognizing that God is in charge takes a huge weight off your shoulders. 3. Forgive yourself. If Jesus can forgive you for being imperfect, you can forgive yourself too. An while you’re at it, forgive the people who put you through the time of trial.
I’ll be honest. Right now I am definitely going through a time of trial. I’m terrified. I don’t know what is coming, and that fact scares me to death. I’m doing an okay job with praying. I’ve never been very good at talking to God, honestly because I don’t make the time. But I’m trying. I’m doing a better job of putting it in His hands then I’ve ever done before. I’ve forgiven (mostly) the people causing my pain. But I can’t seem to forgive myself. I feel like a failure of the most epic proportions. I can’t stop thinking “If I had just done _____ differently” or “Maybe I should just give up.” I know that I should forgive myself, and I’ve even been praying for help with that, but I just … can’t. Maybe it’s because I’m so proud that I think I should be able to do everything without God’s help, and it makes me upset that I couldn’t. I don’t know. I just know that I feel terrible and afraid all the time.
I don’t really know why I’m telling you all this. Maybe saying it out loud (writing it out loud?) will help me move on better. Maybe it won’t. Maybe I’m just whining to the entire internet. But if you have a few moments to spare a prayer for me, I would sure appreciate it. I need all of the help I can get.