One of our kids is a planner by nature. She wants to map out everything, from summer vacations to college plans to her eventual career path. This tendency has been especially challenging and frustrating for her during the pandemic. She just wants to know when things are going to happen and how things are going to pan out. I think most of us are like that. We want to know what the future looks like so we can anticipate and plan.
When I read the Gospel of John, I don’t envy Jesus at all. Even though the Jesus of this Gospel knows everything, this information does not make anything easier. Understandably, the knowledge of his impending death weighs heavily on him. It preoccupies him. When he says that his soul is troubled, we know why. And yet, Jesus is clear that he will not ask God to save him from his suffering.
In this way, Jesus is the opposite of us. When we suffer or face the threat of suffering, we pray for God to take it away. If someone we love is suffering, we pray for that to be taken away. It helps me to know that even Jesus seems to worry about how he will face his future. Even knowing that his death is imminent, he still doesn’t seem to fully know how he will handle it. Surely we will encounter suffering in our lives. Though we may want to plan and map out our futures, the truth is that we can only know so much here and now. This year especially, the imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday reminded me of both my transient space here on earth and my assured place of rest in God. Jesus shows us that our souls can be troubled and comforted in the same moment, in God’s time.
How do you handle the tension between needing to plan for the future and resting in God’s care?
God, you are the author of all of our days. Comfort and give us hope, even when our souls are troubled. Amen.