Maundy Thursday: Finding Comfort Despite Agony of Spirit

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2018 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Agony of spirit. It behaves like expanding foam, filling our bodies to the point of explosion, pressing against frantic hearts, making nearly useless our gasps for air, and squeezing unseen walls within our brains until there is no longer space for more pain. It has to come out.

Looking for Relief

Some of us lay in bed unable to act, staring at nothing, questioning our will to live.  Lashing out against ourselves or others may release some of the pressure. How much energy we have to do so  varies because after fighting to survive for hours, days, months, or years, we are tired. 

Some of us try to talk it out. Others who have no one to listen, dig deeper into the cavernous despair of unchallenged negative thoughts.  There is prayer, which much of the time does little to immediately relieve intense anguish, yet provides that unfailing rope by which God holds us near to himself. 

That may be the only comfort we know for a while. 

Jesus prayed in his agony

Jesus, on the night before his crucifixion, had yet to be arrested or betrayed. He knew what was coming though. For hours overnight, he wept and moaned in such agony of spirit that his sweat was like blood.

There is much debate over whether he feared the cross, or if he was heartbroken over the momentary separation from God he was about to endure. Was he sad for his mother, family, or friends?  Was this the last temptation by Satan – to run from the mission Jesus had left heaven to complete? 

He begged God, “If this cup could pass…” Which cup? Since I do not believe emotions are ungodly, it is not confusing to me that our sinless Savior agonized over all the above and more.  Powerful claw-like emotions grasped for his mind and permeated his body. For Jesus, they poured out in tears and pleas to his Father for comfort.

Comfort, not escape

“Not my will, but yours.” Jesus surrendered once again to the only One who had ever been true to him, who loved him without measure, and who had always held his devotion. Heavy of heart, disappointed, and tormented,  Jesus clung through prayer to the unfailing rope of God’s love.

Agony of spirit does not leave us quickly. Trauma and later memories, injustice and abuse, great loss, suffering, and shaky wellbeing drop us to our knees. Nonetheless, we can rest, exhausted, in the embrace of God who hears us in our panic, depression, desperation, and mental torture. He never, ever abandons his children. 

Today’s Helpful Word


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.

top pic from scottmluddell; Jesus pic from



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