By Scott Armstrong
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done. Matthew 26:39-42 (NIV).
How many of us have complained that we do not know God’s will for our lives? Many times we are aware of what he wants, but we just struggle with actually doing it. I know I should reach out to my friends at school, but opening my mouth and starting a conversation about God or church is hard. I know God wants me to spend time with him every day, so why is my devotional time so inconsistent?
Good news: even Jesus struggled with doing God’s will. We have recorded in Matthew 26 the very real struggle of Jesus Christ before he went to the cross. He already knows the will of his Father, but he is wrestling with what that means for him. It means suffering. It means torture and scorn and embarrassment. It means death. And instead of standing firm and calmly accepting his fate like some fake superhero would, he falls on his face in anguish as he begs the Father to find another way.
But this struggle is heroic. Jesus is not cowardly looking for an escape hatch. He is not debating whether or not he should do God’s will. He is rather struggling with WHY God’s will has to be accomplished in such a brutal way. And in the middle of this agony, he resolutely prays, “Not what I want! What you want! Even though it does not make sense to me. Even though it means horrible suffering! Get me out of this if there is any other way! But know that I am fully committed to doing your will if this is it.”
Can you say the same thing? Comparing some of our decisions with Jesus’ decision to go to the cross seems odd. But what if we sought God’s will in every decision with the same strong attitude as Jesus? “Yet, not as I will, but as you will.”
What are you struggling with today? What if God’s will does not match your liking? May we always proclaim with everything in us (through tears and struggle, perhaps), “Not as I will, Father, but your will be done.”