What strikes me as I read this text, is how Jesus talks about his impending betrayal, abuse, and death as necessity. It is what must happen in order for him to stay faithful to God’s call on Jesus as Messiah. Whatever temptation to avoid this trouble, whatever fear attached to that growing knowledge, Jesus also knew sometimes to fulfill what you are called to, a painful journey is necessary.
It strikes me that what is true for Jesus is true for us. Some popular religious preachers will talk as if faith is a journey simply of being carried. If you believe, you need never fear. God walks besides you. You can have perfect peace in this world. There is some truth in that, in that you never walk alone but Jesus does not model a life without obstacle or suffering. Instead Jesus models a life that includes struggle, but struggle with purpose: struggle to live with justice, with compassion, with faith. He models yes that we do not walk alone, but that the loving Father and the mothering Spirit of life who indwell all things and each of us nearer than the air we breathe are present strengthening us through life’s ordeals, guiding us through life’s uncertainties, and giving us the ability to keep moving when others might falter.
This is important to me. Like so many, I’ve heard the preachers claiming if I just believe I can have health, wealth, prosperity, a family without conflict, you name it. And like other people, sometimes that message gets to me. Is my faith shoddy? Is that why I face the struggles, twists and turns in the bends of life, that I do?
Yet Jesus never was saying in any of his precious promises that hardship, or illness, or heartache, or even times going without, were not part of this human journey. Rather he promised to never leave us or forsake us on it.
That I see in each twisting journey of my life, and in the lives of others I support each day. That promise can carry you, can carry me, as far as God’s call leads us, even beyond the far horizon into that coming land beyond all suffering. Let it be so.