The School Of Experience

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed,
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.
Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Matthew 26:39 (NIV)

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The saying, “Misery likes company” is best understood by someone who meets someone else who is going through the same grief. Self help groups meet a real need in peoples lives simply because experience produces a special form of sympathy in those who would comfort others.

Most organizations that provide divorce recovery programs recruit the staff from the ranks of people who have themselves been divorced. The school of experience teaches lessons you cannot learn from a book or classroom. Those who suffer wish to be taught by those who have suffered themselves. There is an authenticity and authority gained through experience that is learned no other way.

This scene in our text today and its record of our Lord’s suffering enables us to understand that He truly knows our sorrows and is acquainted with our grief (Isaiah 53:3). Listening to Jesus express His revulsion at the cross and its suffering rings true in the hearts of people familiar with pain and sorrow.

Recently I visited a person who has had several cancer surgeries, and she seemed to have beat the disease when last operated on 5 years ago. Now the disease is back with a vengeance. When I met with her all she could say was, “No, Gordon, not again.”

My heart went out to her as she wept and expressed her frustration with the health issues she faced. Was she sinning in saying she did not want this to happen again? Ought I to have rebuked her for resisting the sovereign will of God? I hardly think so. Instead I turned her to this passage in Matthew and showed her how Jesus reacted in the shadow of the cross. There was one other thing I pointed out after commiserating with her for a while. It was a sign of mercy that Jesus experienced as He lamented the coming cross.

What occurred at this desperate hour in our Lord’s life was that an angel visited Him and strengthened Him for the horrific events that would soon follow. Once before, when our Lord was stretched to the limit, an angel came to Him and ministered to him (Matthew 4:11).

I assured that dear lady of two things.

  1. Because our Lord went through this baptism of sorrow His sympathy with us in our times of suffering is richer, and more earnest. The Saviour’s love is most gentle and tender when we need it most. He understands from experience the grief and frustration that comes from pain and suffering.
  2. I assured the patient that the Lord would send an angel to comfort and strengthen her so that she would have grace to endure what she did not want and certainly did not invite into her life.

When I left her I urged her to pray to her Father in heaven and ask for help like that given to Jesus in Gethsemane. I learned later that she was heard and that her prayers were answered.

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