My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death – Jesus, in the garden
O Lord, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you, for my soul is full of trouble and my life draws near the grave – Psalm 88
I’ve wanted to sing this song ever since we first started this Good Friday Blues adventure. The reason we haven’t done so until now is because it didn’t strictly fit the Good Friday theme. But this year, Lando (the owner of House of James, where we hold these services) asked if we could do things a little differently, shake things up a bit, maybe start the story in a different place. Finally, I had my opportunity.
Say it, say it, say it
Tell it like it is
What breaks your heart? What keeps you awake, awake at night?
What makes you wanna break down and cry?
How your anger and grief make you wanna cry out!
This year, we start in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed so fervently that he “sweat drops of blood”. I don’t pretend for a minute to understand what Jesus was going through – I don’t think any of us can because only Jesus was fully human, fully divine. Not only did Jesus know he was going to die a physically horrible death, he knew that death would separate him from the Divine, separate him from himself… it’s a little mind boggling, isn’t it?
But I do know what it is to face things I’m scared of, to pray and pray and pray, to lose sleep over things that make me cry. The world is filled with trouble and woe. Injustice, war, climate change, racism, sickness… it’s enough to make one despair. In my own little world, I am aware of people wrestling with mental health challenges, who are grieving the loss of loved ones, who are battling cancer. How do you even begin to respond to all of this?
Say you’ll never close your eyes or pretend that it’s a rosy world
Say you’ll never try to paint what is rotten with a sugar coat
Say you’ll talk about the horrors you’ve seen and the torment you know
Say you’ll tell it like it is…
Tracy Chapman’s song speaks to some of this. Her voice is almost like that of the psalmist, crying out in grief. But when I overlay the story of Jesus in the garden onto this song, I hear the voice of the angel coming to minister to Jesus – say it, say it, say it, tell it like it is. Even Jesus needed to unburden himself in prayer, to give voice to his despair, to speak the fears in his heart.
This gives me courage to face the things in my own life. What is it that is breaking your heart? What injustice needs you to cry out?