DRUGGED BY GRIEF
"He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, 'What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray that you won't give in to temptation.'" Luke 22:45-46 (The Message).
Even in the midst of His own ordeal, Jesus was teaching His disciples (and us) a powerful life lesson. The words "drugged by grief" in this paraphrase capture the truth He both modeled and communicated to His disciples.
The disciples were in the grip of a "drug" that paralysed their will and robbed them of their ability to know what to do in this predicament. Instead of preparing for the unknown by submitting themselves to the Father and receiving His strength to resist the devil (James 4:7), they copped out by sleeping.
Unlike them, Jesus used the situation to prepare Himself so that, when the temple guards swooped down on Him, He was not taken unawares. He was equipped, through His "reverent submission" (Hebrews 5:8), to accept the entire cross event without resistance or retaliation according to His Father's will.
Emotions are a powerful and truthful gauge of the thoughts and interpretations of our life experiences. As we have followed Jesus through the Gospel of Luke, we have recognised that His perspective was always God-centred. Time and again He had to correct His disciples' misunderstanding of their experiences by bringing them back to a God-awareness which gave them a proper understanding of what was happening.
Because they had filtered out of their minds Jesus' warning that He was going to be arrested and crucified, but that He would rise again, the disciples were caught up in paralysing sorrow. The only way they could handle it was to sleep it off, perhaps hoping that, when they woke up, it would have only been a nightmare!
If we grasp this principle, it will save us from unnecessary emotional pain and enable us to live in the inner rest that kept Jesus from falling apart in His time of severe testing. Jesus is our supreme example but there are others in Scripture who exhibited the same attitude to their suffering and came out on top.
Joseph stands out as an Old Testament character that recognised God's hand in his circumstances, refused to become bitter, gave excellent service to his master in spite of his suffering and emerged a winner because he trusted God instead of collapsing into self-pity. Likewise Daniel centred on God and served Him in Babylon, probably the worst pagan environment of his day. No threats or manipulation could move him from his purpose to obey God, no matter what.
Our emotions are the clue to what we are thinking. If we view our situation as hopeless, we feel despair. We become depressed and our depression becomes the drug that paralyses our desire and ability to do live normal lives. Depressed people are so self-absorbed that they shut out the world and retreat into a prison of hopelessness which is the perfect environment for the devil to sow his seeds of self-destruction.
What is the antidote to emotional "drug abuse"? Jesus said, "Pray!" What must we pray? The Apostle Paul gives us the answer in Philippians 4:6-7. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The key is not that you pray but what you pray. In this instance to "present" implies to reveal - come clean with God about what is really in your heart - anxiety and all its accompanying emotions. Expose them and give them to God, and He will replace them with peace that does not make sense to anyone else but you.
Had the disciples done that, they would have been released from their emotional drugs and in their right minds to face their situation and not give way to fear. God steps in with the grace to go through when we expose to Him what is really going on inside.
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