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. - Matthew 26:39 NLT
There’s a high probability that most of you have encountered a season of deep pain in some form. If you haven’t yet, you inevitably will at some point in your life. In those seasons have you ever been desperate for someone; anyone to actually understand the gravity of your pain? Someone that just gets it?
In the verse above Jesus’ grief and vulnerability is so transparent. He doesn’t hide his fear, discontentment, or pain from God. He boldly lays His request before God. Literally. Jesus doesn’t just get on the ground to pray. He puts His entire face to the ground pleading for God to take His suffering away. This dude Jesus. He gets it! He also demonstrates selflessness by continuing in the same breath: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine."
Not only does Jesus get it, but something that Scripture tells us is that God will never abandon us in our trials. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” - Isaiah 43:2
When I was younger we occasionally visited a local historical reenactment museum. One of my favorite parts of the day was watching the blacksmith (Merriam-Webster: a smith who forges iron) reenactors. I couldn’t help but be mesmerized by the hot sparks that flew off the scraps of iron they were shaping. They would educate us as they worked, and something I learned that always stuck with me is that without the fire, a piece of iron remains unpliable. Without the hammer, the iron remains a scrap. Both the fire and the hammer are essential for the iron to be transformed.
This visual has always helped me in my own personal journey through suffering by better grasping Biblical truth and creating habits of praise despite my circumstances. It’s a tremendous gift, privilege, and joy that God would allow me to suffer in the ways that He has. He is always refining us and I will never be hesitant to share that He is my reason for my hope (1 Peter 3:15 NLT)! I rejoice, because my Blacksmith is a King y'all!
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. - Romans 5:3-5 NLT
I want to end with this. The reason it’s become so easy for me to reconcile suffering is that I know without it, Jesus could not accomplish what He did at Calvary (the location where Jesus was crucified). Jesus had to come to earth in human form and endure the greatest of suffering so that we could be rescued from our sins. Without the story of Jesus, there is no hope.
Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven - and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all - life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory. -1 Peter 1:4-9 MSG
I want to encourage you to not hide your suffering, but instead to share it and then share the reason for your hope and boldly live out your faith. Because sister, if you don’t share your story with those around you, you’re not sharing Jesus.
1. How can your suffering tell the people around you about Jesus?
2. What steps can you take to draw closer to God in order to see your suffering as a gift?
Dear King Jesus, thank You for coming to earth and taking our suffering so that we may live a new life. Please help me to cling to You and Your Scripture when I face trials of any kind. When I lose hope, please surround me with people to point me back to You. Thank You for being my perfect example. In Your mighty name we pray, Amen.
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