via dolorosa

As I meditate on Jesus’s passionate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, his human agony and suffering on full display, I am reminded how often I also long for God to provide another way for me in the face of suffering. All Christians struggle with following Jesus down the via dolorosa, the way of suffering. We are more comfortable with following Jesus in his victorious into Jerusalem to be enthroned and crowned the king. We often clamor for that kind of victory borne out in our lives as the absence of difficulty or struggle. We are tempted towards the glory and the grandeur of Palm Sunday. But as author Kim Reisman has noted, “[T]hat is not the Jesus way. God doesn’t dispense with death. God resurrects us from it. The truth is that the Jesus way isn’t about God taking pain away from God’s people; it’s about God providing us with strength, courage, and meaning, with abundant life, often in the midst of pain.

I am always thankful then, for this very human portrait of Jesus struggling with his own suffering in agony. Jesus struggled as I do. And while I often reluctantly say to God, “Not my will but yours be done,” I put my faith in the God who is able to transform the evil of suffering and affliction into salvation and death into life for all who believe.

-Margaret Manning 

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