“In his anguish he prayed more earnestly,
and his sweat became like great drops of blood
falling down on the ground.” (Luke 22:44)
(This, just after an angel had appeared to him and given him strength.)
As I sit down to write, Robbin Kawabata’s nephew is missing. There are some emotions I can’t imagine. Others I don’t want to imagine.
Life in Detroit was filled with too much tragedy. I feel like I experienced it all there. But life never fails to surprise us. The ache of a world that is sustained by infinite love but alienated from that love.
Connor is a high school student in Cupertino. You may have seen it in the news. You may have helped in the search. You may have already prayed for his family. He disappeared after first period on Monday morning.
I didn’t know Anna was missing until I received the early morning phone call from the policeman that she had been killed; I was away at a youth retreat. Deb, I learned later, had gotten a call in the night from Sally’s mother to ask if she had heard from the kids. They were supposed to arrive at Sally’s home late that night but hadn’t shown up. I don’t want to think about that anxiety.
It’s easy to imagine God as above all such anxiety. But then there is the story of Jesus praying in Gethsemane in that dark night when his fate was sealed, yet before the mob arrived to seize him. Luke says his sweat was like drops of blood.
When Paul writes, “have no anxiety about anything” he is not suggesting that a family like Robbin’s should not feel what they are feeling. He is talking about how we live in the midst of anxiety. “In everything, by prayer and supplication, let your requests be known to God, and the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
I wish it said “don’t be anxious, God won’t let anything bad happen,” but it doesn’t. It says that the peace of God will keep you in Christ Jesus. I wish it said “the peace of God will keep you in perfect peace,” but it doesn’t. It says the peace of God will keep you in Christ Jesus.
There is not as much comfort there as I would like. And yet, there is a great promise: the promise that we will be kept in Christ. Whatever happens, we will be kept in Christ.
This is the promise to which I cling. In the midst of all the pain, sorrow, struggles, fears, anxieties, hopes, desires, delights, griefs, guilts, terrors and frustrations of life, we will be kept in Christ. We will be kept in the one who bears in his body the scars of tragedy. We will be kept in the one whom God did not leave in the grave. We will be kept in him who is our way, truth and life. We will be kept in the one who brings peace to the world. We will be kept in the one who will bring perfect peace to the world. Complete peace.
And sometimes, when I am mindful of this – that I am kept in Christ – sometimes I can taste something of that peace to come.