By Mary Greggila

A very wise friend recently shared an idea with me that completely changed my outlook on a situation that I think many of us are in. Throughout this experience, I know that the Lord was truly speaking to me, and I felt called to share it with all of you. He wants to speak to you, too.

            I had been thinking about all that I have to complete and get done in these last couple of weeks before the end of the semester, and I was very seriously starting to freak out. Sadly, I don’t think I’m the only one who has been in that situation full of fear, anxiety, and worry. On top of these usual college stresses, I was getting especially upset that it was aligning with Holy Week. I was mad because, in my head, Holy Week deserves to be spent in restful and quiet prayer and contemplation of Our Lord’s Passion. How am I supposed to do that with multiple presentations, an Honors’ research paper, and a handful of other random assignments and tests before me?

            I had reached out to my friend to ask for prayers for the week in general. I didn’t want to share details, and I basically just said, “Could you pray for me for the start of this week?” Then the first God-moment happened: she asked me what was going on.

            So I told her that I was tired of looking ahead to every week or month and saying “I just have to get through this”, or “Once I’m past that, I’ll be okay”. I told her my list of things I needed to complete before graduation. And I told her that these next two weeks are honestly the ones I’ve been dreading the most for a while because so much is going on, and that I wish I would have prepared more because I’m bummed that it lines up with Holy Week… I think you understand.

           But after this venting text full of fear and doubt, this good friend spoke truth to my heart. So much truth, that it brought tears to my eyes. She acknowledged how much was going on, and sympathized with me, saying, “I know it stinks.” But then God spoke to me through her again. She told me, “If you can unite the work you are doing with Jesus, it will actually be such agift that it is during Holy Week.” Let that sink in for a minute.

            We know that Jesus didn’t want to go through the Passion. He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42). Jesus knew for a long time leading up to that week what was going to happen and the horrors he would have to endure. Yet, in the midst of his fear and all that was looming over him, he was intimately close with the Father. The Father knew his pain and his fear and sent help to him in response to his prayer. “And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.” (V. 43).

           My friend helped me realize that maybe I am tired just “getting through” because Jesus is inviting me into a new time. I think the same goes for all of us. Maybe Jesus wants us all to justbe in His presence in the present moment, regardless of the circumstances that lie before us. He is inviting us to be with Him in the garden, to unite our overwhelming feelings of dread and fear with His. And the beautiful thing is that our Lord loves us so much, that even amid His suffering, He still wants to shield us from our suffering. If we place ourselves at His feet, Jesus will protect us. God will send angels to our aid if only we ask. He just wants us to be honest with Him and say what we are feeling, no matter how messed up or ugly it may seem.

            I encourage you to look at this Holy Week in a different light. I invite you to join me in the garden with Jesus. Join me in uniting your sufferings with His. Walk with Our Lord as He carries His cross to Calvary, and imagine your responsibilities and assignments as the cross you must carry alongside Him. I encourage you to take a well-deserved break from all of your work to give our Lord even just five minutes reflecting on His Passion. Place yourself in the Gospels, and truly imagine that you are there with Him. You’ll be amazed of the grace and peace He will share with you.

            Our God is so Good. He knows what you are going through. He knows what you are afraid of. And He has “plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) Draw near to Jesus in these last few weeks, and He will give you the strength you need to do things far beyond your imagination. Know of my prayers for each of you!