Many of us expect to feel good all the time. In fact, if we don’t feel good, we think something is wrong or that God has abandoned us. When we experience disappointment or frustration, we assume there’s a problem and want to blame someone. Or, we turn to whatever brings relief, like gossiping or alcohol or busyness. We want to escape our troubled feeling, believing that trouble can’t be from God.
Jesus offers us another option: the way of a troubled soul. ”My soul is troubled,” says Jesus. Let that sink in. Jesus, God incarnate, experiences a troubling in his soul. But he doesn’t try to suppress it or escape it. In fact, Jesus says that the very thing troubling him is the “reason that I have come to this hour.” The path that lies ahead disturbs Jesus. Even so, he embraces it as purposeful to reveal God’s love.
What if instead of trying to run away from the troubling in our souls, we moved toward it? What if we got curious about what that troubling might signify, what God might be up to within us? Such disruptive moments wake us and get our attention so we can recognize God’s calling us to a new path, however uncomfortable it may be. When we move toward rather than away from the troubling in our souls, we open ourselves to God’s holy wisdom inviting us to take a closer look.
The path of self-giving that lies ahead troubles Jesus. At the same time, he understands it as the way to reveal God’s love for the whole world. We too can walk the way of the troubled soul, pouring out our lives to reveal God’s love for the world.
Lord, give me a troubling in my soul that will reveal your love for the whole world. Amen.
We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow, but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.
• Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. In what areas of your life do you find yourself keeping score? How can you release that tendency?
• Read Psalm 51:1-12. What clutters your heart, making it unavailable for love?
• Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you fallen into the habit of faith rather than exhibiting authentic faith? What distinction do you draw between the two?
• Read John 12:20-33. How does the author’s illustration of the seed and flower help you understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?
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