"In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood." Luke 22:44I have been blessed to help a new friend out in his carpentry shop. I say new, because I have met him in passing a few times, but never had a chance to get to know him. After spending an afternoon talking with him a week ago about many things including my thought of helping him out. I figure it would be good to hone my skills, and provide a measure to fall back on if our business slows down a lot which it traditionally does over Christmas and the New Year.
At one point we were talking about the "staff" t-shirt that I was wearing. It was from my days of volunteering to chair a committee for a big city marathon. The task I had was to recruit some people to help me place a medal around the full marathon runners necks who cross the finish line. On average there were a couple of hundred that would make the full course.
I did this for six or seven years, starting not long after my conversion.
The state that most of the runners were in after running the twenty some-odd miles varied to some degree, but almost always they were so pumped up, and so deep into their running rhythm that they had to take a long time to unwind. Where is this going you may ask?
It was during the very first race that I saw someone, an older fellow, finish the race with this rather large streak of blood on his shirt just around the left side of his chest. It was around heart height and the blood had seeped down the shirt towards the bottom. I saw six people cross the finish line with various sizes of blood patches on their left side that day.
Later on in the day when I inquired with one of the medical team as to why these people had the blood stains, it was explained to me that when the body is under a constant and extremely high level of stress that the pounding of the heart can cause the capillaries in the skin above the heart to explode. Thus, the patches of blood.
I went home that afternoon in a sense of awe for what Jesus suffered in the Garden. His sweat was as drops of blood. Given the intensity of what He was struggling with, the realization, I am sure, that He was indeed about to pay the price, He must have "ran" a great number of marathons that evening.
We all approach a forthcoming time of suffering, from the simplest needle for a flu shot, to an operation to receive an ostomy pouch, to cancer treatments, to alzheimers, and more with fear and trepidation.
"Father, not my will but yours be done." Luke 22:43
To embrace suffering and in turn to offer it to Jesus to in some way share in His suffering, that is to participate in our Redemption (Mystici Corporis 44), is the call and most especially a particularly human dignity. That is right, dignity. One who embraces their suffering deserves our deepest support and gratitude. For, it is their prayer in suffering that will have a great influence with God the Father. Miracles can happen, and they do through the power of those prayers!
Lord Jesus, I give You my suffering and pain. I offer it to You, as small as it is, as an offering of love. Please accept it and bless it. Thank You Jesus for the gift of suffering. Thank You for blessing me with an opportunity to share in Your Cross. I love You!