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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 8, 2020  

Today’s Hymn

Go to dark Gethsemane,
all who feel the tempter’s power;
your Redeemer’s conflict see;
watch with him one bitter hour;
turn not from his griefs away;
learn from Jesus Christ to pray.

Follow to the judgment hall;
view the Lord of life arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall!
O the pangs his soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss;
learn from him to bear the cross.

“Go to Dark Gethsemane” (vv. 1–2) by James Montgomery
Hymn 220, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal

I love Jesus in Gethsemane. I feel especially close to Jesus in Gethsemane. I don’t feel so alone in my struggles. Sometimes I wonder if God hears my prayers, but most often I feel God’s presence, close and real, because of Jesus in Gethsemane.

I love Jesus on the cross. When he cries out from his agony, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”, it validates my questions, my feelings of abandonment, my frustrations at prayers that seem to go unanswered. And if I stay with him long enough beneath his cross, I find hope again when he calls out, “My Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

There are certain times marked deep in my memory, times when I have learned to pray. When our firstborn daughter was struggling as a five-year-old, struggling to cut paper like other kids, struggling to make friends. As precious as she was, there was something different about her. Now we know it was more than different. She was special. In first grade, Rachel was diagnosed with learning disabilities. It was heart-rending to see her walk home from school alone.

Two and a half decades later, our second daughter hit bottom and had to admit that she was an alcoholic. After serious rehab, relapses, and being “restored to sanity” (AA 12 steps), she has become a grateful member of Alcoholics Anonymous, now fifteen years sober. These were the times we learned to pray. These were the times we were glad for Jesus in Gethsemane, Friend of the friendless, Help of the weak. I love the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father . . .” But I love even more the prayer from Gethsemane” “Father, let this cup pass from me!” It is when I “turn not from his griefs away” that I “learn from Jesus Christ to pray.”

Wonderful Savior, you are friend of the friendless, help of the weak. We give ourselves to you during this Holy Week, because we know we are weak in faith. As you agonize for us and pray for us in Gethsemane, we are unaware and fall asleep when the stakes are very high and our souls weigh in the balance. Help us this week to keep watch and stay alert, that we may see and believe as Jesus works out our salvation. Thank you for your grace to forgive. Thank you that, somehow, you believe in us even when we do not deserve it. And thank you for making of us more than we are, through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Written by David Handley, Interim Minister for Pastoral Care

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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