Scripture: Luke 22:43 CEB
“Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him.”
When I went back to college to finish my bachelor’s degree I was quite a bit older than the traditional students. I was in a class of incoming freshmen who were 18 years old and I was 28 years old. Being around folks who were a lot younger than I was helped me determine that I wanted to be in a little better shape. I decided the way that I would do that was running. I ran every day starting at barely being able to run a mile to running three - four miles each day. After several weeks of running I had a friend offer to run with me. I accepted and for about a year we were running partners. This was an amazing help to me. I had never run before and was very much a novice. My running partner was an experienced runner who helped push me to do things I had never done before. The best thing my running partner did for me was to help me believe that I could do the things I had never done before in terms of running. It’s been a long time since I ran, but the best part of running was having someone who believed in me before I believed in myself.
My running partner actually decided to transfer to a different college closer to home. This meant that I would be running on my own. I was ready for this, especially after all the time I spent with my running partner. One day I went out for a run and was feeling particularly good. I felt so good during my warm up and stretch that I decided I would do something different. That day I decided I would run until I was tired, until I couldn’t run anymore. Remember I usually only ran three miles a day. That day when I hit the three mile mark I wasn’t tired at all and kept running. When I hit the four mile mark I was doing so well I kept going. Somewhere between the four and five mile mark doubt started creeping in. How much farther could I go? It was at that point that I distinctly remembered the words of my running partner. I could hear my running partner telling me I could do it, to keep pushing. Suddenly, I had passed the five mile mark and kept running. I ended up running six and a half miles that day. It was, and still is, the longest run of my life. All thanks to my running partner—even when he wasn’t physically there.
I wonder if this is what it was like for Jesus as he prayed in The Garden of Gethsemane that night. He was praying in agony and his spirit was grieved. He prayed so hard that his sweat was like drops of blood. Luke records, “Then a heavenly angel appeared to him and strengthened him.” Jesus had not yet made it to Calvary, but this was as close as he had been in his life. In this time of distress, when he was anxious about what was to come, an angel came to strengthen him. I believe the angel would have reminded him of what God the Father had sent him to do. I believe that the angel would have encouraged him. Perhaps this is just what Jesus needed to propel him to the cross. As the officials come to arrest him and take him away the Gospel accounts show a much stronger and prepared Jesus. This time of prayer, preparation and strengthening came right in time. It was the appearance of the angel that helped prepare Jesus for what would come. God sent the angel when Jesus needed it most. The angel was sent to strengthen him.
God sent the angel to strengthen Jesus precisely at the time of his greatest need. Do you trust that God will provide for you in your time of greatest need? No doubt, God isn’t asking you to do what Jesus did at Calvary. However, God is asking you to live for him. Will you trust him to provide for everything you need to accomplish this? Remember, Jesus prayed to the Father “not what I want, but what you want.” Trust God today to provide everything you need to live for him. If you will, God will strengthen you and you will accomplish more than you ever thought you would.
Prayer: Holy God, I will trust in your ability to provide for all my needs today. I will give you all the glory as I see this unfold in my life today. Holy Spirit guide and direct all of my thoughts, words, and actions. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.