By Beth Groh

Sleep… sometimes that’s just the sweetest word we can imagine.

Maybe it’s a “mom thing,” but we can get so starved for a solid, uninterrupted night of sleep that we almost forget what it feels like to have one. It becomes a vague and distant fantasy, like a spa weekend of pampering with leisurely strolls, sumptuous meals, and all the chocolate we can imagine…

Then reality hits.

A baby crying … a dog barking … a teenager slamming the refrigerator door at midnight … a never-ending “to do” list that swirls through our minds as we lie in bed trying to sleep … once again, a blissful night’s sleep slips through our fingers.

Multiply that ten-fold when we’re anxious, bewildered, or depressed.

With that in mind as we head into Holy Week—and feeling quite groggy myself this morning as I write—I can totally relate to one pivotal moment in our Lord’s final hours of His earthly life. While He was quite literally sweating blood in bitter despair, His disciples were just a few feet away catching a nap.

After sharing the Passover meal, Jesus asked three of His disciples to join Him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane:  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matt 26:38)

That worked for a while, perhaps, but He returned three times to find them sleeping…even despite His warning: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matt 26:41)

Oh, that hurts…because it is so true for me, and perhaps for you, too.

I catch myself falling asleep as I pray at night or sometimes, dozing without even remembering to pray. I wake up in the morning failing to think, “Thank you Lord for another precious day,” and instead immediately think of all the things I believe are more important awaiting my attention. I find an excuse for how little time I have to devote to reading my Bible. I can stay so busy that I probably don’t even notice half of the chances I might have to share the sweet words of the Gospel with others.

I find myself sitting in the garden with Jesus sometimes—by doing the works expected in my Christian walk–but I might as well be back at home in bed, sleeping like the disciples did on that dark night.

The truth hurts…

Thankfully, God’s Word paints the rest of the picture for me, for you, and for those disciples of long ago. Their sins were forgiven—just like ours—when Christ was nailed to that cross…and they then journeyed on to build the very foundation of Christ’s church on earth.

We, too, can experience His mercy when our sleepy eyes—and souls—prevent us from “keeping watch” with our Savior.

But, as this mom heads into Holy Week, I’m going to ask the Lord’s help in staying awake—both physically and spiritually—to serve Him joyfully even when my body longs to rest.


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