He asked the disciples to "Sit here while I go over and pray" (Matthew 26:36). Jesus asked for companionship and comfort from those who knew him best and who had walked beside him in ministry. But what happened? The disciples fell asleep while Jesus expressed to His Father deep sorrow and anguish (Matthew 26:37-39). They were unable to "sit with" Jesus and be present to his needs even for a short time.
Sitting Shiva - A Jewish Tradition
The Jewish faith observes a tradition called sitting shiva for seven days following a death. The family gathers at one location where friends can come, spend time, and offer comfort, and sympathy in the days following a loss.
When my husband's father died suddenly on December 20, 1983, word spread quickly among the two churches he was serving. By mid-afternoon, our small parsonage living room was filled with people who came to" sit with" us. We were still in shock. A steady stream of people came by into the evening to let us know by their presence that they were keeping us in prayer. They offered comfort and companionship, listening as we began the process of grieving our beloved father, father-in-law, and granddad. These people were sitting shiva, so to speak with us.
Sitting With Others
Almost a year ago, I "sat with" my friend, Donna, and her family while her daughter, Katie, also my friend had surgery for a brain tumor. The chairs in the waiting room were arranged in a circle. We didn't say much during the two hour wait, mainly making small talk to break the tension and pass the time. But we didn't need to say much because God's presence was felt in those moments of anxiety and uncertainty as we sat in a circle of love.
Sitting with others, even when few words are spoken - especially when few words are spoken - let's God's presence and love come through. When we sit with someone, we make room in our heart for him or her just like God does for us. When we "sit with" another, we model how God is present to us through giving our time, listening, offering reflection and prayer - precious gifts to those about whom we care.
Sitting with someone can also be for a happy occasion. Two years ago my long-time, dear friend, Ann, who lives in Vincennes, had a doctor's appointment in Indianapolis the day before my birthday. She decided to spend the night with one of her daughters who lives about a mile from me, to help celebrate my birthday. I prepared lunch, and Ann came over. She "sat with" me, as we shared happenings in our lives. I still remember the joy of Ann's gift of time. I even drew the picture below to honor our visit.
God Sits With Us
When I can express what I feel God is telling me or I draw a picture when I don't have the words to say, God comes and "sits with" me. When I rest with a few verses of scripture, and ask God to enter my study, God is "sitting with" me.
Psalm 139:5 (NCV) assures us of God's presence: "You are all around me - in front and in back - and you have put Your hand on me."
Take a few moments and reflect on how God comes to you and you will identify how God "sits with" you.
I am sad, Jesus did not have love and support from his close friends during his time of great need. We feel his disappointment and frustration with the disciples whose loyalty failed him expressed in Matthew 26:40 (GNV) Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, "How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour."
Knowing Jesus' feelings, can inspire us to be present to others in the various circumstances life presents.
How have you "sat with" others for happy and sad occasions? Reflect on these experiences. How did you feel to have companionship?
Prayer: God, you are indeed all around us - in front and in back. You "sit with" us in many ways offering silent companionship we can hear in our hearts and feel in our souls. Deepen our faith and trust in you so we can increase our awareness of how you "sit with" us. Guide us and direct our vision to those who may need us to "sit with" them. Amen.