I have been following The Gospel Coalition and just finished listening to James MacDonald preach on Psalm 25. Toward the end of his message he mentioned that his mother, from his childhood, would quote this verse from John 18:11 which says…
“So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the father has given me?”
It hit me that Jesus is our greatest example of one who had to endure what the Father willed for his earthly life. He went into the garden saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) The same plea is recorded for us in both Matthew’s and Mark’s gospels respectively (Mat. 26:39, Mark 14:36) and is preceded with Christ expressing deep grief and anguish “to the point of death” (Mat. 26:38 & Mark 14:) about what lay before Him.
Now, not that our struggles, trials or burdens even come close to the sufferings Jesus experienced as He bore our sin and was that “sacrifice once for all”. Yet, there is a similarity to what He goes through in His humanity that is encouraging and comforting. In no way was Jesus trying avoid the will of His Father, but the weight of the prospect of what He had to do labored heavily on His heart.
Similarly, we who are God’s children, who desire to do the will of the Father are taken through trials, disappointments, and times of testing that we really don’t want to endure. We know that they are necessary for God’s refining of our souls and for the further unfolding of His divine plan, but we really wish that there was or could be another way. We say to him…
“Father, I know you have a purpose, but would you please go easy on me…still, not my will but yours be done.”
This is especially encouraging for me as the last year has seen plenty of heartache, trial and struggle for my life, family and ministry. Now, through it all, and with God’s strength, I have found myself praying a similar prayer. I don’t want to go through the valley of refinement or to see the way sin disrupts, destroys and divides God’s people. Yet, since I serve a sovereign God who is fully aware and fully in control of my life and the responsibilities of my life I know that I must submit my natural inclinations to His divine plan. He knows what is good for me. He knows what He must do in the lives of the people I love. He knows what it means to refine His church and how to bring about the glory and honor that He is due.
So, even though we may not like the prospect of walking through the mud and marshy wasteland of a valley, the reality is that we are still walking on His path of maturity and growth toward Christ-likeness. We are firmly in His plan.
“Lord, help me to stop fighting your plan and to put my sword away. In stead, help me to be willing to drink the cup that you are giving me.”