The Straw That Broke the Camel's Back
“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.” Mark 14:32-34
Most of us have heard the old saying “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” What does it mean? The phrase gives the image of a camel so laden down with stuff on its back that one more little straw will break its back. We use that phrase to demonstrate how overwhelmed and pressured that we can feel sometimes from the demands of life. Sometimes we feel this pressure because of things we cannot control that creep into our lives and sometimes we feel the pressure because of bad choices we make. Regardless of the reason, we still feel the pressure and as a result life can get real hard.
When that pressure comes, it is our natural tendency to try and fix the issues on our own. I believe that God is directing us to a different approach in how we address these times. I am convinced that God wants to break us of that dependence on ourselves and bring us to the point where we totally depend on Him. This is called the principle of brokenness.
I would define brokenness as “the process whereby God crushes all our self-dependence and in its place substitutes a complete dependence on God and God alone in every area of our lives.” I am grateful that we serve a God who understands brokenness and endured it as well. In Mark 14:32-34, the Bible tells us that Jesus, on the night before He was to go the cross, went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray because of the pressure and difficulties He would face in the coming day. That passage tells us that He “was deeply troubled and distressed” knowing all that He would endure in the coming hours.
What’s interesting is that the Garden of Gethsemane sits next to an olive grove called the Mount of Olives. What is even better is that the word Gethsemane literally means “olive press.” The olive press was used to pulverize olives in order to make olive oil. Jesus found himself in the “olive press” being broken so that He would find the peace and direction He needed to do the will of His Father. Our Lord understands the difficult times we endure because He endured them and conquered them. That night in the garden, He came to the point where He said to God the Father “not my will but yours be done.”
Jesus was demonstrating for us how to totally rely on God and God alone for even the darkest hours that life may bring us. I pray that God will use these verses to bring you peace and comfort today as you face the difficulties of life. I also pray that each of us will seek daily to place our total dependence on God and God alone for every area of our lives.