A Gethsemane experience


On the day of my mastectomy, as I waited on a trolley outside the anaesthetic room, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a profound terror of suffering and death, just as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane. I felt completely helpless, despairing and alone, shaking uncontrollably with cold and fear. 

Then my surgeon entered the room in blue scrubs. She must have seen at once how distressed I was, because she came straight over to me, putting her arms around me and bending down to lay her head gently on my chest. She seemed like an angel of comfort and strength. I managed to whisper, through chattering teeth, “I’m so frightened!” She didn’t even speak, just held me as I sobbed helplessly. 

After a time, realising how cold I was, she moved to stand behind me, rubbing my arms to warm me, until I was pushed into an ante-room and quickly, skilfully anaesthetised. 

That evening, after the surgery, I wept again. I felt as if I had experienced something of what Christ suffered in Gethsemane, just as those gazing at a representation of Jesus on the cross occasionally undergo the pain and powerlessness of his crucifixion. 

Next day, however, I realised that rather than we ordinary mortals sometimes sharing what Jesus experienced, it was, in fact, he who fully shared our primeval, human terror in the face of imminent suffering and death.

 Of course, there are major differences between my experience and his. I was facing my profound fear of anaesthesia and surgery solely for my own benefit. Jesus, on the other hand, was facing betrayal, torture and death so our sins could be forgiven. I hope I will never cease to thank him for what he faced and endured for our sake.



My heart pounds in my chest. The terror of death assaults me. Fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking (Psalm 55:4-5; NLT).

They went to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little further and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by (Mark 14:32-5; NLT).  

Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:43-4; NLT).

Angels came and took care of Jesus (Matthew 4:11; NLT).

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7; NIV).

God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8, NRSV). 

Be merciful

The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving (Daniel 9:9; NLT).

I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins (Jeremiah 31:34; NLT).

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).



Be merciful and kind
Towards my mother;

Forgive her sins,
Forgetting all that’s past.

Don’t let her suffer
Any pain or terror;

And bring her
To your kingdom, Lord,

At last.


The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away (Job 1:21; NLT).

He has plunged my path into darkness (Job 19:8; NLT).

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me (Psalm 23:4; NIV).

And I will give you treasures hidden in darkness (Isaiah 45:3; NLT).

Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT).

You gave me what I had,
Then took it away –
Plunging my path
Into darkness.

I’m terrified –
Even though
You’re with me
All the way.

Help me to walk courageously,
Discovering along the way
The unexpected treasures
Hidden here;

For then,
In time,
This darkness will become
My closest friend.


“Pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:28; NLT).

“…and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us” (Matthew 6:12; NLT).

“But I say, love your enemies!” (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18; NIV).

I pray for everyone
Who supports,
Or commits
Acts of terror,
Or war.

May we find it in our hearts
To forgive those
Who have attacked,
Or occupied,
Our country,
Killed our people,
Or insulted our beliefs.

Please help us all
To love our enemies,
So we can live together
In peace.


The hands of God

The hands of God

It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31; NLT).

God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all (1 John 1:5; NLT).

The Lord your God is a devouring fire (Deuteronomy 4:24; NLT).

I can never get away from your presence! (Psalm 139:7; NLT).

No wonder I am so terrified in his presence. When I think of it, terror grips me  (John 23:15; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

Living God,
It is a terrible thing
To fall into your hands.

Your light
Blinds me.

Your fire
Burns me.

Your presence
Fills me with dread.

Your love
Overwhelms me.

Living God,
It is a terrible thing
To fall into your hands.


Hello, everyone. If you read this blog regularly, you will probably have noticed some recurring themes. One of these is anger, an important and unavoidable physical and emotional response to unkindness, threat, offence and hurt. It’s vital that Christians learn to handle their anger in healthy ways, neither suppressing it, nor using it to attack others. In this, we have no better example than Jesus…


* “In your anger do not sin’ (Ephesians 4:26; NIV).
* “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?” (Matthew 17:17; NIV).
* “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Matthew 23:33; NIV).
* Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves (Matthew 21:12; NIV).

Lord Jesus,
I’ve always been terrified of my anger.
Tell me – how did you manage yours?

Ah – sometimes you spoke sharply
To the disciples and the crowds,
With harsher admonition still
For scribes and pharisees.

Once, in the temple,
You acted out your righteous indignation.

As you overturned the tables
People must have been scandalised!

But you were never ashamed of your anger, Lord,
And you weren’t afraid of it, either.

You didn’t suppress it –
You faced it
And used it in healthy ways
To help your ministry.

May I learn from your example.
Help me to be angry
Without sinning –
Just like you!


Hello, everyone. I am 61, and have suffered from agoraphobia pretty well all my life. I have clear memories of it from three onwards. I had no idea why I found going out so difficult, until I stumbled on a description of agoraphobia during a depressive breakdown. I was 26, and at that time agoraphobia was essentially considered to be untreatable.

So I had to put together my own exposure treatment programme, which I then worked at progressively for many years. There are still many things I can’t cope with, especially as chronic fatigue now limits my energy for stretching my limits. However, I still make sure I go out almost every day, to keep it at bay as much as I can.

My sympathy and understanding go out to all those reading this who also wrestle with chronic mental problems of any kind. I’ve written many prayers about depression, anxiety and agoraphobia, but as a gentle introduction, this is by far the most positive!

* O Most High, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you
(Psalm 56:2-3; NIV).
* Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).
* The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore (Psalm 121:8).
* You will go out with joy and be led forth in peace (Isaiah 55:12).

Thank you, Father,
That every time I go out,
You are with me –
I am never alone.

I can talk to you,
Tell you my fears,
Ask you for confidence,
And beg for your help.

Rather than fearing
Your beautiful world,
Please strengthen me to face it,
And enable me to rejoice in it.

I ask this in Jesus’ holy name,