Wednesday, May 1, 2013

When the going gets tough

Four things I learned recently from a sermon I heard:

When our Lord was in the Garden of Gethsemane...

1.  He wasn't alone.

Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go over there and pray." And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled (Matt 26:36-37, cf. Mk 14:32-33).

When I go through particularly difficult times, my natural tendency is to pull into myself — to hunker down — instead of seeking the company of fellow Christians.  I don't usually do this with my husband, but am I wrong for holding back from other believers?  I don't know.  What do you think?

2.  He talked about it.

Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me" (Matt 26:38, cf. Mk 14:34).

Talking about minor difficulties with fellow believers is usually pretty easy, but rarely do I discuss major ones.  I talk about them with my husband and family members, but should I also be looking to other believers for support?

I talked afterwards with the speaker of this sermon and was told that he too tends to keep quiet.  He thinks that we tend to assume we're being humble for not speaking about our difficulties and believes we are wrong for thinking this way, that we should be seeking the support of fellow believers.  I wonder if it's more a matter of different personality types, though.  Some people are naturally more open about things.  But maybe we should be seeking the support of fellow Christians no matter what our individual personalities naturally want to do?  I don't know.  What do you think?

3.  He prayed about it.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matt 26:39, cf. Mk 14:35-36, 39).

What strikes me most about these verses is, our Lord asked the Father if it was possible to forgo the whole thing, even though He knew absolutely what the Father's will was.  If this doesn't show our Lord's humanity, I don't know what does.  He felt what we feel when we're dealing with extremely difficult situations, and He poured out His heart to the Father about it.

4.  He submitted to the Father's will.

And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will" (Matt 26:39, cf. Mk 14:36).

Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done" (Matt 26:42, cf. Mk 14:39).

And yet, though the situation was unbelievably hard, our Lord submitted to the will of the Father. 

So often I read or hear how we're suppose to keep praying and praying and praying for a particular thing until we finally see our prayers answered; almost like we're suppose to keep nagging and whining until He finally gives in.  At least that's the way it seems to me sometimes.  But how can we even think of insisting things work out according to our wills when we're told that "we do not know what to pray for as we ought"? (Rom 8:26-27) 

Instead, shouldn't we be pouring out our hearts to Him, and then immediately following up with, "but not as I will, but as You will"?  And perhaps after that, shouldn't we stop focusing on the things and situations we'd like to have and just rest in His grace...and think on good things?  Easier said than done, I know.  But shouldn't this be our goal?

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Cor 12:9).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you (Phil 4:6-9).

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