Wintonbury Lent Devotional | Week 1
The Mercy of God's Companionship
by Leroy Case
Jesus in Gethsemane
Anyone who has traveled to a third world country knows there's a possibility of eating something that doesn't settle well with your stomach. On one particular mission trip I led to the Dominican Republic, I ate or drank something that ravaged my body. Whatever had entered my system made a gradual assault that strategically climaxed on the day of our team's return to the States. The pain began tolerable in the morning, but as the day waned, it felt like a riot was growing in my abdomen and draining the rest of my body.
By the time we boarded the plane, we had already been waiting at the gate in uncomfortable seats for several hours due to delays. Once in the air, I felt like I was going to die. I cannot remember ever being in so much pain for a prolonged period of time in my life. I threw up so many times that eventually I just gagged repeatedly. No bodily position provided me comfort. I went from burning hot to freezing cold in cycles. Looking at the TV screens around me made me nauseous. And wouldn't you know that on that flight, we encountered the worst turbulence I have ever experienced in all my years of flying. It was so drastic that the Dominican woman behind me kept screaming and wailing for fear of losing her life.
What made the entire scenario go from bad to worst was the fact that no matter how many times I hit the orange "help button" for the assistance of a flight attendant, no one came. Not once. When one would pass my way, they would completely ignore me or fail to follow-through on my simple request for more puke bags.
Can you imagine?! I felt isolated by my pain and forgotten by those around me. I felt trapped inside what felt like a body of death. The four hour flight felt like an eternity and the thought of enduring a three hour bus ride after that felt unbearable.
In desperation, I called out to the Lord. I could only utter the words, "Help me Lord! Have mercy on me!" I repeated those words again and again and again. As I prayed, an unforgettable thing happened. My pain didn't go away or lessen, but in calling out to my Father in heaven, I received mercy to endure the trial. Whenever I stopped praying and fixated on the pain, it felt like my world was coming to an end. Prayer alone was my solace.
In Gethsemane, isolated by His call to death; alone in His grief as His disciples slept; sweating drops of blood as His body prepared to face unspeakable violence, Jesus went to pray. Three times Matthew tells us that Jesus went off by Himself to pray. There was no human companion alert by His side on His darkest night. There was no physical, emotional, or relational consolation for the Worthiest of Companions save the consolation of His Father's presence, a mercy all its own.