A few years ago, apparently I had an anxiety attack. The thing was, I didn’t really feel anxious. I didn’t even necessarily feel stressed out. I was busy. I definitely had a lot on my plate, but I wouldn’t have described myself as being anxious. The only real thing that was different was that I wasn’t getting great sleep.
Well, I started having chest pains, arm pain. I tried to get a good night’s sleep to see if it would go away. Of course when you’re laying there with chest pain, it’s hard to relax. So I didn’t sleep well. And I woke up with the same pain. Throughout the morning it worsened. I went to urgent care.
They asked when I started having the pain and I told the doctor. She was not pleased with me and told me I needed to go to the emergency room. So, I drove myself home and my wife drove me in to the ER. By the time we were being seen by a nurse I had also developed a pain in my jaw.
No, I wasn’t having a heart attack. I was stressed out. Apparently a lot. They ran all the tests and discovered that absolutely nothing was wrong me. At least nothing they had a test for. No, they didn’t do a brain scan, so the jury is still out about that. This, I guess is the most stressed out I’ve been.
I’ve been stressed out other times in my life. I can remember feeling stressed out the night before our wedding and the music on the slide show wasn’t lining up like it was supposed to and I snapped at my brother who made a joke about it. It wasn’t funny, at least not at the time. I remember being stressed out for performances and finals. I can remember lots of times that I was under stress.
But never once have I been under such stress and strain that I sweated drops of blood. In today’s reading the author says: “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”
Here, the author is almost certainly referencing again the night before Jesus was crucified, where He was praying in the garden. In Luke 22:44 we read: “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
What was causing Jesus such great strain? Not just that he had to endure the cross, scorning its shame. He was also struggling to submit to God’s will that was leading Him to and through the cross. Three times he prayed for God to take the cup away from him. But the Father didn’t. In the end, Jesus had to go through the cross to find the joy on the other side.
For most of us, as anxious and stressed out as we may be, like the author says, in our struggle against sin we still have yet to resist so hard that we actually start to sweat drops of blood. For some of us, we don’t even resist sin at all anymore. We either excuse it or even embrace it. But for those who are resisting it, we still have yet to resist to the same point that Jesus did.
What is the author really communicating here? I think it’s simple, sure the desire to turn away from Christ when it’s not popular to follow Him is strong and appealing. But as challenging as it may be, we have yet to fight that temptation to turn away with he same level of fervor as Jesus did in the garden.
Remember that Jesus was fully human and that he did not use his divinity to the advantage of his humanity. So, that resistance he portrayed in the garden is not something he did by the power of his godness. It was something he resisted by the power of the Holy Spirit.
That means that you and I too can resist sin with the same tenacity. We don’t have to give in to it. We don’t have to let sin have it’s way with us. We can resist, we can turn away, we can embrace God’s higher holy way for our lives. It is possible.
It may not feel like it at the moment or in the moment, but it is possible. It is something God can and will give us the strength to do. Whatever that thing is that keeps getting you, you don’t have to give into it. Whatever that sin is that keeps tripping you up and leading you away from Christ, you can resist harder.
Until you’re sweating drops of blood, you’ve still got more fight in you. And God wants to aid you in that fight and push you over the finish line to victory. You’ve got more to give, I just know it!