Thursday, July 2, 2009

Blood, Sweat, and Fears?

I was curious about the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane, after the apostles fell asleep. Jesus was there all alone..and extremely troubled and anxious about coming events. He wondered how He could bear it..alone. So much so that he sweat drops of blood. Now, is that a literal description or just there to underline how badly he suffered mentally and emotionally the night before His betrayal and death? Do people sweat blood? I had never heard of this in my 63 years. I am suddenly stuck on finding an answer. There was only one thing to do when faced with my own stubborn curiosity, and when my family and friends have become disinterested in my many queries, unavailable, or just plain sleepy. I went straight to wake the faithful ..Google. Google assured me through her medical journals that, yes, people have been known to sweat blood. There have been at least about six cases of criminals sweating droplets of blood while awaiting execution! The journal went on to explain that sweat glands pushed on blood vessels(?), until sweat broke blood, so to speak. I suffer from anxiety disorder and panic attacks which can cause mental and emotional agony, yet have never sweat blood under any circumstances. I consider my angst a weakness for which i seek therapy and thank God for it.. the therapy. My anxiety, like crazy relentless red ants, can overrun and do real damage to myself and others. Thus, I did not think Jesus felt anxious, but the proof is in the blood dripped from His sweating body, awaiting execution. No one knows for sure if He agonized over the looming events because of fear, because of the piercing pain of human sin, or because He was struggling to the end with His Yes to the Father. Can the agony of our anxiety, be redemptive somehow? We are told not to worry, not to be untrusting, but even Jesus who was fully human felt abandoned by friends and Father as he hung on the Cross. God took Him, His own son to the limit of human mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual suffering. I trust that God rescues us as He did Jesus in ways we may not be able to see in this life, as Jesus according to his final words, did not see, "Father, why have you forsaken me?" From my own unpacking of what went on in the Agony in the Garden, with the help of Google, I have gained more grist for the mill of comtemplative prayer. One piece is that, although we have no way yet of understanding because our intellects have not been fully opened, Jesus was really completely human, vulnerable to all our painful human weakness of body and mind. That He was fully Divine as God's Son, does not lessen that fact that He suffered in everyway as we do..blindly at times. He had to carry on as if He could see when He did not, as we are challenged to do. Next, I learned that in facing mental and emotional pain, through circumstances that we cannot change but may embrace, ours can be joined with His suffering and redeemed in prayer for grace offered for those without times. Of course, I will continue to use my meds and cognitive therapies and do my best to live as healthy and calmly as possible, but when I can't, I know I can count on Him to know how I feel, what I need, and how to help me.. through the things I cannot change, and to give me the wisdom to know the difference.

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