by Laurie Gudim
‘Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ – John 12:27-28
“You can do hard things,” I would tell my children when they faced those particularly difficult moments in their young lives, like joining a new class or going to the doctor, when fear and incomprehension threatened to swallow them. Born of my certainty that they had it in them to be successful, this statement would ground them and help them focus on their inner resources.
There are times when, in following Christ, I am tempted to ask that I be saved from having to do something frightening or upsetting. Maybe it’s having to apologize for a wrong I have done. Maybe it’s having to be open to somebody of whom I am terrified. Perhaps it’s needing to ask for forgiveness for terrible things that have been done in my name, or to lobby on behalf of people who are oppressed or marginalized, or to give up some of my privilege somehow. At heart I know that, in a certain way of looking at it, I have come into the world just to do that thing, and in the doing of it, somehow God’s name is glorified. It’s not that I’m particularly egotistical. I believe everybody is called to these moments.
In the midst of my dread I will hear, in the chambers of my heart, “You can do hard things.” It becomes a sort of mantra that reassures me. It connects me with my personal strengths, but, more importantly, it reminds me of the greatest inner resource of all, my relationship with God.
In living the Way of Jesus our souls will often be troubled. In that place where we rest in God, that is often the way The Holy One has of asking us to make a change or take a risk. The niggling of conscience, the clench of longing, or the reach of imagination will grab us and hang on until we understand what we must do. Whether it’s a big thing like giving up a profession in order that a ministry take hold in us and grow, or a little thing like walking across the street so that a woman in a burqa doesn’t have to wait for the bus alone, we will struggle until our fears and the world’s claims – prestige, money, power, or even connection to friends and family – give way before the deeper tug – to be fully ourselves and by so doing to glorify God.
As we listen to the longing, the unease, and the whisper of the voice of justice within us, it is important that we remember this, that our purpose is that God’s name be glorified. We are not limited by the world’s definitions and values. In God, in whom we live and move and have our being, our true nature is revealed. Again and again as we grow spiritually we must live our way beyond everything imposed upon us by our own and others’ understanding. Giving up, letting go and taking on, we serve so that God’s name is glorified. In God’s love, we can do hard things.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane, Carl Bloch, public domain