He (Jesus) went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done." -Matthew 26:42
He was the strongest man they'd ever known, or so it seemed to them.
Maj. Charles Whittlesey was an unlikely hero, a New York attorney thrust into command of a battalion of soldiers in the heart of the Argonne Forest during WWI. Surrounded by the enemy and battered mercilessly, Whittlesey held his men together through days of seemingly hopeless struggle. Known in history as the "Lost Battalion", the tale is one of courage and a testimony to leadership.
To his soldiers, he was the strongest man they'd ever known, and he remained so after the war. Tagged as one of the "three most important soldiers" in WWI by Gen. John Pershing, Whittlesey was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery. Haunted by the loss of so many of his men, he would always respond whenever the survivors in his battalion struggled for money or jobs or had other needs. In peace, as in war, they looked to him to lead. A hero in war, and a hero after the war. Still strong. Still unfaltering.
Or so it seemed.
On November 11, 1921, Lt. Col. Whittlesey served as a pall bearer at ceremonies opening the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then he booked passage on a ship and spent an evening talking amiably with a group of strangers. That night, haunted by the memory of the men he lost, and the needs of the men who remained, he stepped quietly off the ship and into the ocean. In his cabin, they found letters to his family...
They are in the next cubicle. Or next to you in the conference room. They're leading your department, leading your firm, leading your church. They're your assistants, the ones who make everything come together, your best workers...the ones you rely on in crunch time.
They look like the strongest people you've ever known. Poised and self-assured, their bold talk and light banter mark them as successful. Their titles and toys mark them as accomplished. They are leaders in the firm, pillars of the community, and maybe even bastions in the church. But behind many of these faces of strength lie inner walls of doubt and emptiness.
Unaware of their shakiness, we rest on them to meet our needs, to strengthen us in our dark hours. They seldom fail us, even as they watch their eroding strength fail themselves.
The echoes of their struggles are confined to the lonely, hollow canyons of their souls. Watching them from this ministry position, hearing them in their candid emails, there's an earnest desperation to their wish to be free of the pressures they feel around them. You may even be one of them.
We need to reach them with a message of hope. We need to press through their walls of confidence not with more requests for help that feed their sense of place and worth, but with the promise that there is One stronger than them; One who faced His darkest hour and did not falter because He had them in His sight. We need to let them hear Him when He says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
The very things we run from, the very things that haunt us, the very things that remind us we are not perfect and not strong, are the very things that Jesus confronted that night in the Garden of Gethsemane. He saw our sin, our struggle, our need, and with a strength none of us has, but all of us may rest in, He told the Father "Send Me."
In your darkest hour, never let that truth escape you. In the darkest hours of your coworkers, never let it be said that they never heard that truth from you.