Matthew 26:36-46 tells of Jesus praying in Gethsemane. Although Jesus knew that the journey ahead He would walk alone, Jesus hoped his friends of three years would be with Him to encourage Him and pray for Him. Jesus being fully God knew what He would suffer in the hours ahead, in His fully man body He experienced the emotions that we too face in hard times. Had Jesus wanted to go through this time alone, He could have separated from them, but instead He asked them to stay close.
Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished 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 farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Jesus did not want to have to go through the hard part of His purpose. I can hear those words I’ve often cried in hard times “Please take away this suffering.” But Jesus knew the end result of His purpose would bring reconciliation between those He came to save and God the Father. It was for that joy before Him, Jesus could add “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”
Jesus was facing the hardest thing He would ever face, not just the excruciating physician pain from torture and crucifixion, but the emotional and spiritual torment of being separated from His Father. He knew what that would feel like. His friends were there, but they weren’t really understanding what He was trying to communicate to them.
Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.
I feel like Satan was at work just as much in the disciples during this time as He was working at Jesus. My mind immediately envisions Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” where Rosalinda Celentano was lurking around Jesus in the garden as Satan. But I think Satan was also making sure that Jesus’s earthly support was not there for Him either. He made sure the disciples couldn’t keep their eyes open. A reminder to Jesus that even those closest to Him were not appreciative of His suffering. A physical reminder of what it would be like without His Father – utterly alone.
So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”
When he came back from praying the third time, they were still unaware of what was about to happen. They were napping, and Christ was about to face His destiny. He saw it coming, they were caught off guard.
In our lives we will face hard times. Some will be of our own making. Others, the more important ones, will be opportunities of destiny wrapped in the hardest of times. Just like Jesus did we have to keep our focus on God. If Jesus needed to pray, how much more do we need to during those times. We have to trust God and allow His will to be done.
There will be friends that we thought would stay beside us during the trials of life. Some will be involved in the betrayal – like Judas. Others will be around, but they will not be there to support us like the other eight disciples. There may be a select few, like Peter, James and John that will walk with us, but as much as they may desire can not offer the level of support that we want or need. Ultimately it is God that we have to turn to during the hardest times of our life.
We can not be surprised when the enemy comes to torment us as we are trying to step into our destiny. Satan wants what is contrary to God’s will. The enemy has no problem convincing us that if we were in the will of God things would not be so difficult. He can plant an easier, just as desirable path before us. It is up to us to be so abiding in God that we can easily recognize that it is not God’s voice whispering to us an easier way. God’s will is not always easy, but it will always be worth it.
There will be times that we pray “God take this away” just as Jesus did. When things are hard, they are really hard – or at least in my life. If we are persistent in having things easy, God will say “Thy will be done.” However we will miss the destiny that could be achieved in that moment. We may have a more difficult road the next time that God proposes His will.
God will never force His Will upon us. He waits for us to work through our emotions and hang-ups, patiently. He will allow us to say know. However, if we do He will try to keep bringing us back to the place that will take us to the full, abundant life He has for waiting for us. He is waiting for the time that we will trust Him enough to say “Not my will Lord, but Yours be done.”
This blog is part of a #Write31Days series on trust. 31 Days is an online writing challenge, where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day.