He pulled away from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed,  “Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?”  At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him.  He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
Luke 22:41-44 (MSG)
 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.
Luke 22:45 (NIV)
Anyone who has ever watched and waited with someone who is in pain, dying or in mental turmoil will surely have sympathy for the disciples. However much you love the person it becomes hard, relentless, and draining of all emotional energy.
I’ve watched and waited with people in all those life circumstances, and more. I’ve experienced many of the thoughts and emotions that surface at such times.
Struggling to understand, to empathise in a situation I have never faced. Trying to come to terms with the obvious pain and suffering. Feeling totally helpless and powerless to help, to comfort, to heal.
Struggling with the lack of words to adequately express feelings, desperate for something to bridge the chasm of silence that becomes all you can hear, perhaps punctuated by sobs and hard-fought for breaths.
Sometimes sleep, if it will come, becomes the only route of escape from the confusion of thoughts inside your head. Sometimes you are so exhausted that you have no option but to sleep. Praying is tough, but provides a route to escape the temptation to fear and be overwhelmed by despair.
Anger, too, may become a release valve for a smothering blanket of emotions that make no sense. No wonder one of the disciples whipped out a sword and impulsively vented that anger when the opportunity arose.
Those of us who preach should be careful not to use the disciples failure to watch and wait with Jesus as a stick to beat our hearers into deeper commitment. Given the same situation, we would be as weary and confused as they are.
Just yesterday a friend and I were talking about a particular time in my life when I appreciated the fact that he was able to “watch and wait” with me.
The conversation started when he expressed a sense of having let me down at a time I needed support.
I said, “Actually I remember many very supportive sessions with you in your office . Your friendship and encouragement were a great support to me at that time.
He responded by saying , “I remember feeling completely out of my depth and inadequate.”
To which I replied, “Just being there, listening and not judging really is enough! ( and not just a cliché).
I guess we can also know that as we watch and wait with our friend or relative, Jesus is there, watching and waiting with us…and he has some inkling of how it feels…and that’s not a cliché either!