By Stuart Powell
How do you respond when life presses down on you and your situation overwhelms you? How do you cope with hard news that takes your breath away? Where do you find the strength to take the next step?
These questions could describe Jesus’ spiritual battle in the week leading up to the cross. Jesus prayed during that stormy time, the same as he did in the early mornings and sometimes all through the night throughout his ministry. That Jesus prayed just before his arrest is not surprising. What Jesus prayed is where we should focus.
Mark recorded Jesus’ anguished prayer: “Abba, Father, . . . everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36).
We all will spend time in our own, personal Gethsemane. Humanity was created and conceived for life, so the reality of death is abhorrent to our God-created nature. On top of that, the enemy continues to whisper the original lie to all people, “You will not die.” Jesus faced the same struggle and lie. Still, he continued walking toward the dread of our punishment, and he still found the necessary strength in communication with his Father. That is how he endured, overcame, and was enabled to carry out his Father’s will and not his own.
As believers, we must adopt this same prayer of Jesus, because we may all face death. Jesus fulfilled God’s plan with his surrender to death. Countless millions of Christians have borne witness to God’s strength in times of trial and suffering. They remained faithful to the gospel even as their physical lives were threatened and snuffed out. Millions of other faithful believers died like Abraham; they never gave up on seeing God’s promises, even in their old age.
What is God’s will for your life? As we eat of the bread and drink of the cup, let us remember Jesus’ endurance and grace as he went to the cross. Remember Jesus’ prayer that preceded his arrest, mocking, beating, whipping, suffering, and crucifixion.
Almighty Father—not what I will but your will be done.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.