When Things Don’t Make Sense
We’ve all heard a lot this month about the Passover, and Easter, and about the crucifixion, resurrection, and the beating that Jesus endured before he went to the cross. I think sometimes we forget about the night before He went to the cross, and the agony He was going through, thinking about what awaited Him. I want us to look at that today, not because of Easter, or the time of year it is, but because I believe Jesus had an attitude that we all must have when going through various trials in our lives. We all know that Jesus was closer to the Father than anyone who has ever walked this planet, or ever will again, but we seem to think that since that was the case it was somewhat easier for Him to go through the things He did. But I don’t believe that is the case, perhaps it was even harder for Him. In either case, I believe Jesus gives us an example of how we are to respond in the midst of a great challenge, and what greater challenge in history has there been than when our Lord went to the cross to bear yours and my sin? Let’s look at the text…
Matthew 26:36-46/ Luke 22:39-46
Jesus and His Disciples have just eaten the Passover meal, prayed, and sang a hymn. During the meal Jesus told His Disciples that one of them would betray Him, he even told them that each of them would deny Him. Repeatedly during His ministry Jesus has told His Disciples that He must die, and that He would be lifted up. So we have seen from Jesus’ ministry that He knew exactly what was going to happen, and what He must do. But did that make it easy for Him? No, absolutely not. In Matthew 26: 37 it tells us that Jesus was sorrowful and troubled, Jesus Himself even says in the next verse that He is “sorrowful, even to death”. You see Jesus knew that He had a purpose on this earth, and He knew that He had to fulfill it. Jesus knew that He had come with the purpose to make a way of salvation for mankind, and that is what we seem to focus on, but I believe Jesus had an even greater purpose. I believe the greatest purpose Jesus had was to glorify His Father. Look at what it says in John 12:27-28, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? “Father, save me from this hour?” But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” So you see, Jesus knew that He had come to earth with the main purpose of glorifying His Father. We all know that He didn’t just do that through His life, though He did. But Jesus glorified God most by His suffering and even His death, and eventually His resurrection.
I don’t believe you or I are any different. We all have different callings, we all have different lives, and we all go through different trials. But our main purpose is the same. We are here to glorify God through our lives, even in times of trial and tribulation. Many times we glorify God most, through our trials.
As I said Jesus has given us a great example of how to respond during those times of trial that we all will experience. First, Jesus prays. Whenever we are going through anything in life, our first response ought to be to seek God in prayer. We see numerous examples throughout Scripture of Jesus praying. Jesus lived a life in prayer, and if He being God made flesh felt that He needed to pray, how much more should we be seeking God in prayer ourselves? I believe even more so, when we are going through difficult times in our lives. This was one of those times for Jesus.
Like I said, we sometimes get the idea that because Jesus was God in the flesh, and had such a close relationship with the Father that things we’re somehow easier for Him, but look at what it says in Luke 22:44, it tells us that Jesus was so distraught and in such agony that He began to pray more earnestly; and that His sweat became like great drops of blood.
I don’t know what issues you guys are having, or have had, or will have, and I don’t want to minimize it, but have you ever been in such a state, and prayed so hard that you we’re sweating blood? I haven’t that’s for sure. Hebrews 12:4 says that, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” None of us have ever suffered like Christ suffered, none of us have ever had to go through what He went through. This past week has been one of, if not the toughest week I’ve ever had. But in comparison to what Jesus went through, it was nothing. Again, I don’t want to minimize the trials we suffer in life, because they are great. Mine and your trials are hard, but there are many in the world who go through so much more, who have had much worse things to experience, but none of us have ever suffered like Christ suffered. Not only did He have to endure the beatings, the nails that pierced His skin and nailed Him to the cross, not only did He have the agony of hanging from that cross, and struggling to breathe, not only was He spat upon and ridiculed by the onlookers, but He was also betrayed and denied by His closest friends. Not only that, but for the first time in His life He was separated from the Father. Doesn’t that help to put things in perspective a little bit? None of us have ever, or will ever suffer like Christ.
That’s the thing, Jesus knew what He was going to have to suffer, and He sought the Father in prayer. But let us look at His prayer. Now obviously Jesus didn’t want to suffer, who does. Yes Jesus was God, but He was also fully human. He didn’t want to suffer and experience this pain any more than you or I would. So yes Jesus came to the Father and asked, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me;” We all I’m sure have prayed similar prayers in our lives during some tough times. Who hasn’t said, “Oh God please don’t let this happen, or make me go through this.” Who hasn’t asked God to deliver them from difficult circumstances? But what is the next statement out of Jesus’ mouth, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
We all have to get to that point in our lives where we can say, “God it’s not about what I want, or what I think I need, but it’s about what you want.” We all must be able to say, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” It doesn’t come easy. Jesus Himself had to pray this prayer three times. Jesus Himself said to the disciples that, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I believe the same thing was true for Jesus. He had a body just like you and I. He was flesh and blood, and experienced the same temptations, and pain, disappointments, and grief that we all do. I believe that is why we see Him praying this same prayer three times. He didn’t want to go through this. If there was anyway possible that He wouldn’t have to go through this, He wanted the Father to deliver Him. But Jesus understood that it wasn’t about what He wanted in the flesh. It was about what the Father wanted, and what it was that would glorify Him. It was about the will of the Father. We too must understand that, and get into that mindset.
Any of us who have prayed, knows that we don’t always receive the answer that we really want. We all have said, God, I really want this, or please let this or that happen. Our prayers are more often than not self-centered. I believe it is ok to say, “God please do this, or do that”, as long as we can add to that, “if it be your will.” That is the part we most often forget. Jesus Himself didn’t get the answer to His prayer here in the fact that He wasn’t delivered from this trial. He still had to suffer. He still had to go through the things that He wanted to be delivered from. But He did get the answer to His prayer in that the Fathers will was done. You see Jesus’ prayer wasn’t self-centered, it was God-centered. If you and I can always remember to pray first and foremost for God’s will to be done, our prayers will always be answered. There was no hint of disappointment spoken of in Scripture when they came to arrest Jesus, because He knew that the Fathers will was being done. In the same way, when our prayers are answered according to God’s will and not ours, we can’t be disappointed, because it is only through God’s will being done that He can be glorified.
Like I said this past week has been very tough for both my-self and my wife. A few weeks back we found out we we’re expecting another child, and even though it was unexpected we we’re both very excited. We we’re making plans to expand our home, thinking of names, and planning for many wonderful years with our new baby. Well not too long into the pregnancy she started having some issues, and had to go to the E.R. I prayed very earnestly for our unborn child and my wife. We eventually got what we thought was pretty positive news and I felt as though my prayers we’re answered. A few days later we had our first ultrasound, and again I was praying earnestly, and again we received what I thought was pretty positive news. The baby was smaller than expected, but they we’re able to find a heartbeat. We we’re told that a miscarriage was possible, and we needed to come back in a week, but both my wife and I we’re very positive that things would be ok. But we both said it was in God’s hands.
I have been praying everyday for the health of my wife and unborn child. This week as we prepared to go to the Doctor, we both we’re in a very upbeat mood, and we’re excited to see our baby on the ultrasound. Soon after the test started we heard the words that I hope no parents-to-be ever have to hear, “I’m sorry, but there is no heartbeat.” They we’re telling us that our unborn child had died in the womb. As soon as the person doing the testing walked out of the room both my wife and I started to cry. I just held her, and I couldn’t help but wonder why. As we left the Doctors office and we we’re driving home, I even told my wife, sometimes things just don’t make a whole lot of sense.
In my flesh this doesn’t make sense. In my flesh I am very disappointed, crushed, almost devastated that my prayers weren’t answered the way that I wanted them to be answered. But, I do know, and in my spirit I know that God does have a purpose for this. And through this He will be glorified. You see just like Jesus that is my main purpose, to glorify God, even in my sufferings.
The last couple of days I have been reading a lot about misdiagnosed miscarriages, and it is my prayer that my wife won’t start the bleeding and cramping, and in a couple of weeks we will have another ultrasound and miraculously there will be a heart beat. It has happened before, and I am praying it will happen in our situation. Like I told my wife, there is nothing wrong with praying for and expecting a miracle. But if things don’t happen that way, and if we have lost our unborn child, I can’t be upset, or devastated, or even question God. I have to know that He does have a purpose. And even now I am praying that if it is His will, to please allow our child to be alive, but if that is not the case, I will say, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Sure I will be upset, and sure I will be hurt, but we have the promise from God that He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5) And that He will be with us always. (Matthew 28:20) Not only that God Himself will give me the strength, notice in verse 43 of Luke Chapter 22. It tells us that an angel appeared to Jesus and strengthened him. In the same way, during our trials, God will strengthen us, and give us the ability to go through whatever we may face.
Romans 8:28 has become my life verse for so many reasons, and over this past week I have really been clinging to it. Let me read it to you, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” It is such a comfort for me to know that God is sovereign and He is working all things that happen in this world for His good. That includes my suffering and your suffering. All of the trials that we experience in this life, if we are children of God, even if it may not make much sense to us at the time, they in some way glorify Him, and not only that, He uses them for our good.
I believe we have the greatest illustration of that by God the Father sending His son Jesus to die on the cross for us. Our God is so awesome and sovereign that He can take what in human terms was the worse thing imaginable, the beating, and brutal murder and crucifixion of an innocent man, even God’s own son, and He can use that not only to glorify Himself, but He used it for the most wonderful and amazing thing ever. To bring you and I, and all of mankind who is willing to accept His promises, and His offer of salvation and make them His own. How wonderful is it that our God is so amazing, so powerful, so sovereign that He can take perhaps the worse moment in human history, and use it as the greatest moment in human history. If our God is able to do that, then I know he is able to use my sufferings in this life, and my trials, to glorify Himself, and not only that he can use those situations for my good. I know He can do the same thing for you as well…Even if it doesn’t make sense at the time…