And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will but what You will.” – Mark 14:36
There is a relationship between struggling and character. The Cross is the Holy Spirit’s primary instrument for shaping our character. The events in Gethsemane represent a Man who, although the sinless Son of God and aware that what He asked for wasn’t why He was there—still cries out for reprieve from the Cross.
Jesus wasn’t seeking to escape His responsibility. He was struggling with the horrendous pressure of a situation any human being would rather avoid. It isn’t cowardice or rebellion. It was a Human Being experiencing His life’s purpose hammered out on an anvil of circumstance, and it was going to cost Him His life. He was asking if it could be worked out another way.
We’ve all gone through tough times in which we’ve said to God, “I don’t want this to happen to me.” Under those pressures, many abandon their availability to the process, but Jesus didn’t.
Character is the willingness to do the right thing when everything around you is going wrong.
We each face at some time in life a pivotal moment that arises from the commitment we’ve made to the Lord’s way, even though everything in us screams for our own way. It involves a kind of dying, a surrender of things. Our serve-your-own-interest society argues against this surrender. Apart from a careful assessment of Jesus and His approach to the Cross, this same self-gratification creeps into the lives of believers and crumbles the foundations of many who end up far removed from what the Lord has created them to be in Him.
God wants to do a redemptive work through you
God is not just building your character, but as He did with His Son, God is seeking to work something redemptive through you. It will cost you to become an instrument of redemption. When it’s over, anything you thought you were losing will be fully recovered, plus more than you can imagine.
As Jesus went to the Cross, considering the cost to Himself, He was not asking for a way out on His own terms—the terms are Scriptural: Father, all things are possible to You. We often miss the fact that within Jesus was both the eternal God and a Human Being. His sinlessness is not altered by this encounter, but His humanness is screaming out loud in Gethsemane. Unless we can capture a reality of what was spoken three times by Jesus, we won’t understand how entirely acceptable it is to God when your heart cries out in struggles and looks for a way out.
Learning how to bring our struggling to Christ’s Cross is to recognize that there’s nothing of your struggle that is unwelcome in Heaven or unwilling to be heard by the Father.
Identifying with Jesus’ struggle is recognizing that He is bringing His agony before the Father. When we have a struggle, many times we opt to manage it in a way other than the will of God. The struggle isn’t brought to the Lord. We don’t say, “Father if this is possible…” We say, “Father, this is impossible, and so I’ll just do it my own way.” Such is the way of the flesh to try and find justification before God for our doing it our own way rather than saying, “Lord, I’ll come the way of the Cross.”
Intimacy and willingness
Two things bookend bringing our struggle to the Cross, intimacy of relationship and trust and willingness to surrender.
The intimacy of relationship is found in Jesus’ opening words of this prayer: “Abba, Father.” They describe His trust in and availability to the Father, and His readiness to reach up and take “Daddy’s” hand for support.
If there were another way, would not our Heavenly Father have delighted in sending 10,000 angels to rescue His Son from this moment? But there was no other way. When the only way out is through, are you still able to call God “Daddy”?
Your character provides the answer. You will say “No,” unless your character has been shaped by Calvary. “Nevertheless not what I will, but what You will” are not words of resignation. They are words of intimate trust and willing commitment.
Outbreak and overflow
There are times in our lives when everything argues for another course, but deep in the integrity of your heart you know that isn’t the Father’s way. The living Jesus, who has come to forgive us and save us, comes to live in us to give us the same strength of character He had. Having made the choice of the Cross and paid the price of that struggle, two things were unleashed: the outbreak of redemption and the revelation of eternal life and glory.
Because Jesus chose the Father’s will, full redemption and salvation broke open on this planet. Three days later came a manifest, explosive breakthrough of life crushing the power of hell and, for all time, opening the gates of glory to the redeemed.
Bring your struggling to the Cross
Whenever you and I bring our struggling to the Cross and opt for the Father’s way rather than our own, an outbreak of God’s redemptive purposes is made possible. You can’t imagine the impact your submission to His way will have in the redemption of other people. You are not their Savior, but you’re an instrument of His saving grace.
When we bring our struggling to the cross in obedience, we experience a glorious outbreak of His resurrection blessing in our own souls, and also experience it flowing through and beyond us.