Paul and I recently had one of our scariest parenting episodes to date, something involving a brush with pure evil and the innocence of one of our children. It was scary, but also good. Because God, in his merciful love, helped us protect our child while reminding us to be alert and watchful. We can’t fall asleep at the wheel, we have to be on guard. Even as our children get older and more independent — especially then, do we need to be aware.
But of course, instead of simply celebrating how the Holy Spirit directed us, how he guided us in a way that miraculously intervened, well… I was angry and scared. You don’t realize how happy and beautiful life can be until something so out-of-the-ordinary invades your realm with insidious venom. Somehow my heart was full of gratitude while also deeply saddened. How can I ever hope to stay ahead of all the evil in this world, I cried to the Lord, I’m afraid!
That night, my prayer book offered this for evening intercessions:
“Let us bless our God, who saves us by the Passion of his Son:
Praise to you, God our Father!
For the agony in the garden
-through which you take our fears away;
for the scourging at the pillar
-through which you wash us in the blood of Christ;
For the crowning with thorns
-through which you offer us the crown of life;
For the death of Christ upon the cross
-through which you give us life:
Praise to you, God our Father!”
That moment, looking into the face of evil — this is what Jesus came for. He came to protect us, but he also came to take away our fear. He came for me, in that situation, to rebuke the darkness we experienced and declare it had no hold over us. No fear we will ever suffer has a greater power than what God did for us on the cross. No darkness can consume us. Whatever fear and anxiety and torment any of us may ever have to face, Jesus overcame it for us in the events we observe and celebrate this week.
Jesus died for this. For all of this. He suffered in the garden to take away our fears. He carried the cross to free us from our burdens. He died on the cross to bring us salvation. He rose again to bring us hope and new life. There is no sin or sadness that can keep us from Jesus. Our hope and joy and peace are in the Lord, and nothing in this world can keep us from the love of God.
As I reflected on that prayer, on the image of Jesus in the garden enduring such agony, I knew this was one of the times he had in mind during his time in Gethsemane. He suffered that hardship to bring me peace. Death and fear and the sadness of this world have no place in my heart because of what Jesus endured during the events of this week. And so, I will embrace that freedom and give back to Jesus all the worries and cares he so willingly accepted with his death upon the cross.