I ran across something in Scripture yesterday that I hadn't noticed before. It is found in Luke 22. The chapter starts with Judas agreeing to betray Jesus, then moves to the Last Supper, and on to the Mount of Olives. This is where we will zoom in:
"Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, 'Pray that you will not fall into temptation.' He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 'Why are you sleeping?' he asked them. 'Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.'" (Emphasis mine)
There are several things that have captured my attention with this passage. One of them is the simple fact that I'd never really noticed the phrase "exhausted from sorrow". When I had read this passage before, I found myself annoyed that the disciples could fall asleep while Jesus was in such agony just a "stone's throw beyond them." Now, however, I see them through more compassionate and hopefully understanding eyes. Plus, I realize how very much I am like them. In recent experiences I have found myself "exhausted from sorrow". Sleep was a very appealing thing. I can only imagine all of the emotion surrounding the circumstances they found themselves in. Of course they wanted to just go to sleep! Look at Jesus' response to them upon finding them asleep (again). "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."
Jesus was aware of their exhaustion and their suffering. However, He knew that their immediate need was prayer against temptation. Remember, He had told them when they first arrived at that place to pray. He KNEW what was coming. This, to me, is another example of the importance of our remaining in constant fellowship with Jesus, and really listening to what He says. He knows what we need, when we need it. There are times He will tell us to, "be still, and know that He is God", and then there will be times that even in spite of (and often because of), exhaustion from sorrow, He will tell us to "get up and pray, so that we will not fall into temptation." It is often when we are at our most vulnerable that the enemy of our souls will try to lead us away from our very life and strength.
Look at part of the passage again, and notice the example that Jesus gave.
"He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed. 'Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.' An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
Jesus was in anguish. What did he do? He prayed more earnestly. Oh, how we need to follow His example.
Notice one more thing about this passage. As Jesus was submitting His life in prayer to the Father, "An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him."
My encouragement to anyone who is exhausted from sorrow, is to pray. Seek the One who has walked the path of sorrow and anguish before you. If your greatest need is truly a nap, He will lead you to peaceful sleep. If temptation is about to knock on your door, He may very well tell you to get up, and pray!