Peter. Intense, impetuous Peter. I've always thought he was pretty unfaithful there at the end, in the courtyard of the high priest, when he denies even knowing the man Jesus. Not saying I would have done better, mind you. Just that that failure to stand with Jesus was ignoble.
But I had a new thought the other day: at least he was there. Unlike all the other disciples, when Jesus began his journey to Golgotha, Peter was near. Luke 22:61 reports that upon Peter's third denial, Jesus turned and looked directly at him. He was close enough that Jesus could make eye contact.
One of the hardest aspects of suffering is the sense of suffering alone. Who can really understand another's pain? Even if we've experienced something similar, each of our trials is unique. Our particular biochemistry, our particular emotional history, our own experiences combine to create specific suffering.
And yet, it matters when others make the effort to understand. It matters to be listened to. Eye contact matters. Jesus must have been glad for Peter's presence. Though Peter may not have performed well, he was close.
Lord Jesus, help us draw near to those who suffer.