Steve’s Devotional – The Difficulty of Acceptance
APRIL 12, 2023
Maybe it’s cancer. Maybe it’s divorce. Maybe you have a son or daughter who’s turned away from God. Maybe you have a friend who betrayed you. Maybe you’re close to bankruptcy. Whatever it is, Mark 14:32-42 shows Jesus in a more painful predicament. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Christ faces a soon and horrible death on the cross. Even his friends—Peter, James and John—refuse to stand by him. They can’t even stay awake as Christ pleads with his Father to “take this cup from me.” As Christians, our model is Jesus Christ. In fact, there is probably no better way to deal with our circumstances than to see how Christ dealt with his, then go and do likewise.
Jesus was Realistic
Jesus was realistic in dealing with his terrible circumstances. Jesus didn’t hide or hide from what was happening to him. Rather, he was “deeply distressed and troubled,” saying to those with him, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”
We simply don’t know what Jesus went through at this time. Part of it was the fear of death and physical suffering. Part of it was that on the cross, Jesus was soon to be separated from the Father because of our sins. Whatever the full extent of Christ’s pain, something went on deep inside that was supernatural and horrific…something we can’t even begin to comprehend.
There are two great dangers in the Christian life. The first is to build mountains where there are no mountains. The second is to pretend there are no mountains where there are mountains everywhere. We are dealing here with the second of those dangers.
Christians simply don’t call lions “pussycats.” Christians simply don’t call cancer “indigestion.” Christians simply don’t call divorce “time apart.” The point is this: Jesus refused to look through rose-colored glasses. Jesus forced himself to deal with reality. We should too.
Look at Jesus’ request: “‘Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me…’”
I once talked to a man who said, “When I pray, I don’t ask God for anything any more. When I pray, I simply tell him I want what he wants.” That sounds very spiritual but that’s not the way it is or should be. If God is your Father and you’re hurting, then you ought to ask. Anything big enough to trouble you is big enough to trouble the Father. Here Jesus didn’t say, “Father, I’m going to leave this whole thing up to you.” Instead Jesus, in essence, said, “Father, I’m scared. Get me out of this mess!”
If you have problems, for God’s sake, ask him to intervene and to change the circumstances. That is your privilege as a child of the King of the Universe. If you belong to the Father, according to John 1:12, you can go to him. It is the Father’s joy to say “Yes” to our prayers.
Jesus reflected God: “And he said, ‘Abba, Father.’” Jesus says “Father” twice. That is more significant that it first appears. Jesus says it once in Aramaic and once in Greek. In other words, Jesus repeats himself in two languages, as if to emphasize something very important, the fact that the Father is universally in charge of all that happens. Jesus saw the Father in control and in charge. Romans 8:28 is true. Jesus reflected on his position as the Son and on his position under the sovereignty of God.
Jesus, in his double way of calling God the Father, reflected on a worldview that circumstances of life are not just happenstance. God has not gone away on vacation. God is not unaware of our suffering. And if God knows, if he is in control, if he is our Father, then whatever else happens is irrelevant to that fact.
You can tell how a man or woman will handle circumstances by finding out what he or she believes about the world, about God, and about him or herself. Jesus reflected God. Who do you reflect?
Jesus relinquished control: “Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Christ faced the most horrific pain and death…it was more than we can even begin to imagine. Christ did it for us. The question is how did he face it? He realistically faced the circumstance; he asked the Father to take it away (and received a “No”); and he had a worldview that included more than just rose gardens. Because of that, Christ was able to say, “Father, it’s okay. I relinquish it to you.”
The Tusculani, a people of Italy, once offended the Romans. That was a dangerous thing because the Roman power was so great that they could easily wipe out any small people. As the Roman armies approached, the Tusculani decided on a way to deal with them. Rather than fight, they opened the gates of their city. The men unlocked all of their shops and houses. Every man, woman and child in that city went about their daily business. When Camillus, the General of the attacking Roman army, reached the city, he was completely dumbfounded. The General stood in the town square and said, “You only, of all people, have found out the true method of abating the Roman fury. Your submission has proved your best defense. Upon these terms, we can no more find it in our heart to injure you than upon other terms you could have found power to oppose us.”
Circumstances are like those Romans. Once you decide to no longer fight, but rather to relinquish circumstances to God the Father, then their ability to devastate is devastated.
Circumstances may not change, but crosses have a strange way of becoming crowns.
Time to Draw Away
Read Mark 14:32-42 / Romans 8:28 / Isaiah 41:10
What is your painful and hard circumstance? How can you face it realistically and then turn it over to God and his plan? Remember that God is your loving Father. You never walk down any road alone. He is with you, he is holding you, and he won’t ever let you go.