I am going through a spiritually difficult time. I find myself once again fearing the dark garden of Gethsemane, pleading that I do not have to go through another grief. I am expecting a new baby girl in the first week of February, but my fear is that I will have to endure another loss. But I know I must accept God's will and not my own. Ironically I have faith in God, its just that I don't know what will happens and I am afraid nevertheless. I feel like the parent in the new testament that asked Jesus for healing, then asked Jesus to help his unbelief.
In my deepest misery: grief and pain I find the only source of comfort is when I look to Jesus and meditate on that long, dark, lonely night he spent in the garden of Gethemsane. Jesus was God in the flesh, divine in spirit. Yet, at the same time Jesus was fully human- with a body subject to the same pains, discomforts and sensations as the rest of us. Though he was God, he was also a man. He was subject to human emotions: pain, grief, fear, shame, thirst and forboding. With his divine nature, Jesus knew exactly what he was about to endure- a torturous death on the cross filled pain, suffering, humilation, shame.
In my time of greatest grief, lonliness and shame, the days, weeks and year that followed the stillbirth I experienced, was among the most difficult times in my life, yet my greatest comfort was from Jesus. I basically was in hiding- staying away from the world. I kept this "secret" of my stillbirth mostly to myself. I did not want to talk about it because of the shame I felt. I was angry at everything- angry that the labor I endured in the hospital was longer than the labor for my two healthy children; angry at leaving the hospital empty-handed with only a memory box, tiny booties and a tiny blanket; angry at the endless complications and humiliating preocedures requried afterwords, angry that the medical expenses and recovery were far greater than that I went through with my two children; angry and jealous of anyone else who was healthy. Every medical bill, lab bill, and ultrasound bill that followed was like a stab in the back- an insult to injury! The months that followed- even up to a year later, I went through humiliating complications and the hemorrhaging that served as a reminder that my body had betrayed me and that I was no longer in control. Medical apointments, medical bills and statements! All constant reminders itemizing each and ever laborous and painful detail. The last reminder was the undiagnosed autoimune condition- which contributed to the humiliating deterioration of both my mind and body- all of which were testament to my continued physical decline, as well as emotional downfall. I could barely contain my tears as I had to attend follow up apointments and to be subjected to further degrading procedures to repair my broken body. I could not even check the mailbox without the staement reminders of the overwhelming waves of grief and shame.
In fact the pain Jesus was yet to experience in a few short hours while praying in the dark garden of Gethemane was described in explicit detail ahead of time by David in the Psalms and the prophet Isaiah! The torurous, sensations of drowning in one's own fluid filled lungs, in a prolonged death of asphyxiation, stretched out on the cross, was described by David. Isaiah and David fortold of the nakedness, shame, and humilation and abandonment that Jesus was yet to face at the cross. The sensations of thirst, pain, flesh stripped to shreds- to the bone, and even the shame- all fortold!
Jesus experienced pain and humilation too! I'm not the first person to experience shame and grief. Jesus was stripped of his clothing and dignity on the cross as he was mocked by countless onlookers. I endured pain and humilation - but so did Jesus- and Jesus even more so! And on top of that,. Jesus endured his pain, nakedness and humiliation in front of friends, as well as enemies and in front of his own mother. Jesus was fully aware of what he would endure. Jesus was griefstricken, sickened, lonely, and axious. And who wouldn't be in the face of death on the cross? We complain and bellyache about much less! Jesus, in his despair and pain pleaded with God to take the cup of suffering away- three times! Jesus asked his apostles to have the strength to remain awake. But they could not remain awake. They simply did not have the strength. Blood stained sweat dripped from Jesus as he fervently prayed. (Whoever painted those santised, artistic renditions of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, depicting Jesus wearing a freshly pressed and laundered white robe, with a pensive yet peaceful look, in Italy in the 1400s, probably never read the actual biblical account. ) Yet, God gave Jesus- the supernatural strength he needed to persever, and Jesus responded "not My will but Your Will."
The power of the Holy Spirit is very real. The Holy Spirit is here and alive and ready for us. Not many people meditate on the significance of the Holy Spirit. Yes it is true, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the trinity. Intellectually many people are aware of the fact. Every Sunday morning, we are reminded. Yet the significance is enormous! When you consider the Holy Spirit- which is in fact God (just as Jesus is God and the Father is God), then the true meaning and significance become more apparent. It is nothing short of miraculous! God is with us through the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit of God is no less real than the presense of Jesus Christ in ancient Palestine, or the presence of God, the Father in his throne in heaven. All three are God, and the Holy Spirit is essentialy God with us- here right now. It is the Holy Spirit that gave Jesus the strength to endure his fate on the cross. It is the Holy Spirit that helped Jesus survive 40 torturous and lonely days & nights in a dry desolate dessert, parched and hungry in the face of the devil's temptations. It is the Holy Spirit that gave a band of unlearned men. the apostles, the strength and wisdom to persevere and spread the good news of the gospel message. This same Holy Spirit strengthened the early believers to face a painful death, being torn to shreds by wild animals, as the were marytered for entertainment at the hands of the ancient Roman government. That same very Holy Spirit can help each and every one of us, infusing us with supernatural, spiritual strength to persevere, even when our minds and our bodies fail us. This is not about our own will power. It isn't about keeping a new years resolution or being tough and independant. This is not simply another self help type of advise that is contained in countless dieting, and relationship and other self helpbooks. This isn't like having a voice in one's head telling us what to do or what not to do. This is about the power of the Holy Spirit that helps us, when we are at our weakest. We don't muster this strength on our own merits, but rather by placing our faith in God. When I want to give in to a pity party and complain and get angry I look to what Jesus endured. And just as the Holy Spirit helped Jesus, the Holy Spirit has and will continue to help me.
Jesus explained that we must not live by bread and food alone but by the word of God. The word of God is more important than the food and water we need for our daily sustainance! Certainly food and water keep our physical bodies alive and functioning, but there is something much more important than the physical body- and that is the spirit. God's word is my lifeline even when my body betrays me and my health declines. Our spiritual health is more important to true life than merely our physical state. And, even when our bodies betray us, when our physical bodies fail us and shame us, we can find renewing and refreshing strength that we need from the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has the miraculous life chaging power to renew each and every one of us spiritually. Replace the expression or term "Holy Spirit" with "God" and it will become clear that God himslef has the power to renew and restore our spirit in order to give us the strength we need to endure and persevere. With God at your side, who needs a counselor or physchologist? Pills, doctors, drugs and medications pale in comparison to the power of God himself through the Holy Spirit! Everything is second place- money, prosperity, career, selfish ambition- its all a counterfit when it comes to the power for peace and strength. You can spend hours in psychotheraphy, you may spend lots of money shopping, or to go on drinking binges, or mind- numbing outings at bars, parties, clubs, sports and other entertainment- all these things may numb the pain or provide diversion- but none of these things can heal. Only God can heal. The power of the Holy Spirit can heal the sick and weak spirit. The power of the holy Spirit can changes lives- no matter how many days you have remaining before you- whether its one day or 70 years.