Lately, I’ve been reminded of a scene from the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, where Jesus is completely overwhelmed, screaming things like, “Slow down!” and “There’s too many of you!” at the lame, blind and sick who wish to be healed. Or another scene where he’s in the garden praying while his disciples sleep off dinner. Jesus is scared and seen begging to God to not allow him to die, completely overwhelmed by emotion.
I’m reminded of those images because I can relate. Not that I’m trying to heal people or anything like that but I understand the feelings Jesus is going through. Jesus is coping with feelings about figuring out that he probably cannot heal everyone who comes to him and angry because God let him down.
Jesus, up until that point, has done everything God has asked of him – he’s gone and preached radical words about hospitality and love, he’s traveled and made “fishers of people,” he’s tried to spread the message of hope and God’s grace to any and all who would listen. And yet toward the end, the disciples abandon him; he’s left scared and alone and filled with this sense of, I don’t know, it’s not failure necessarily but perhaps it’s this feeling of “I tried and look where it got me.”
My reading and understanding the humanness of Jesus could possibly be something I’m reading into the story. Though maybe not. Maybe Jesus did feel all of those emotions, which allow me to relate to him because there are times where I feel totally and completely at a loss, where I feel overwhelmed and scared and left on my own island. I cry and scream and do what I need to do to feel better but the sense of let down and loss gets to be too much sometimes.
I don’t like letting people down. I don’t like feeling hopeless. And yet, life can do that. Work can do that. And in a society that promotes success and frowns on failure, it can be even harder to swallow and take in. It’s hard to hear you’re out of options and there’s nothing more you can do. You’ve tried and the outcome might not be grand but you’ve tried. Shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t that be the hope?
Jesus might not have felt like a failure or out of hope. The Gospels don’t tell us that. The writers didn’t want to make Jesus anything less than perfect, remember. However, in my mind, he might have felt that way. He was human and the countless number of people who came to him for help in whatever form probably exceeded what was written about in the Gospels. It wouldn’t surprise me if Jesus felt as if he let people down. And towards the end, that night in the garden, I wouldn’t be shocked if he felt hopeless, knowing his life was to end and thoughts about not reaching everyone crossed his mind.
Sometimes in life we try our best, we embrace the storm and do what we can. Sometimes in life people fail us or we fail ourselves. Sometimes life leaves us feeling hopeless. And it hurts and it’s ugly and scary.
However, the hope is that there are people and experiences that can give us comfort, peace, grace, forgiveness, and a lifting up. Sometimes there are people who remind us of all that is good and that there is this sense of love that surrounds us. Sometimes the hope is the thought of resurrection and new hope and new life. Sometimes hope shows up in ways unexpected, to show us that trying and doing our best is in fact good enough. Sometimes it’s our faith that gets us through.
As we head into Holy Week and Easter, I pray that wherever any of us are on our journeys of life and faith leads to hope. I pray that when life gets rough for whatever circumstance, we are reminded of love and hope and know that even if we feel alone, we are not. God may seem light-years away but God travels with us everywhere. I have hard time believing that recently, but it’s true. God is never too far from us.
(from the church April 2017 newsletter)