Then he said to them, My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. Matthew 26:38 (ESV)
In preparation for Holy Week I generally read the story of Christ's passion from at least one of the four Gospels. This year, I'm in Matthew, and today in Matthew 26, I could scarcely get past the verse I selected above. It's one I've shared with you in the past -- but once again it stopped me cold. (The previous entry is "A Gethsemane Request" from March 2010.) It is the voice of Christ expressing for each hurting soul, the deepest need we have ... that of someone to watch and pray with us. In the past we've looked at what it means to us that Christ sits with us in our times of deep fear, sadness, and loneliness. But here, I'd like us to revisit the Scripture thinking not of ourselves and our needs, but of the fact that Christ asks something of us, even as He makes this request of Peter, James, John and the others.
"Remain here; watch with Me."
It's what our loved ones need from us, even as we busy ourselves by offering them compassionate care day after day. It isn't just about meds. Not just about tests and shots and trips to doctors' offices. Not just about food prep and clean clothes and bills payed and batteries changed in the TV remote. No, in their sorrow over all that age is stealing from them, they need what Christ needed in Gethsemane that night -- "remain here and watch with me." Someone to hold their hands and infuse them with hope--even if it's nothing more than the hope of being loved, of companionship, of someone feeling empathy with their pain. They may not be as articulate as our Lord was in asking for what He needed. But it is one of their greatest needs.
His request wasn't easy for the original hearers. They were bone-tired, weary as we often are. They were sad themselves over the prospect of losing their unique relationship with Christ on this earth (He'd just told them He'd be leaving!). And their bodies were desperate for the release of sleep. Does that description sound at all familiar to you? And yet, He asks us, as He asked them to just "be" to "remain" to "watch" through the long hours of the darkness.
Could they have helped giving in to that exhaustion? I'd probably have said yes, at least before experiencing some intense seasons of caregiving. But maybe they simply couldn't do what the Master asked that night.
Either way, He returned to them, after pouring out His heart to His Father. And finding them asleep, He was saddened further, perhaps even disappointed.
And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:40-41 (ESV)
Blessings and prayers,
© 2012, Julie-Allyson Ieron. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, email: firstname.lastname@example.org