Suffering

“My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Tonight is the night that Jesus is betrayed. I don’t think I’m ever fully prepared for this weekend and what transpires on it. I’m never prepared for the weight of Friday, the anxiousness of Saturday or the joy of Sunday. It’s all so overwhelmingly amazing that my flighty human flesh can’t handle it.

As I was reading my Lent series tonight, I came across the verse above and I was struck all over again with awe at how amazing Jesus is.

How many times have I prayed the first part of this prayer? How many times have I desperately asked God to take away my pain and suffering? How many times have I told Him that I don’t deserve this and that if He would just take it away, I would serve Him better? How many times do I fail in my faith in Him?

I really don’t believe that God causes suffering, but I do think that He can be glorified through our struggles and suffering.

Jesus knew this too. Jesus knew He had to die for us because of all the suffering that sin had and would cause. Jesus wanted it to go away; like me He asked God to take it from Him. Unlike me, He went one step further. He trusted and knew that God’s will is higher, that He knows better, and that He has a plan to make goodness shine through our suffering.

I may not understand why I suffer and I may not be able to handle my pain at times. But through it all, I know that God is faithful. He is in control and because of that I can say, “yet not as I will, but as You will.”

Tomorrow Jesus is going to die for me and yet again, I’m not prepared. But tonight I’ll rest in the truth that my God is faithful and that He will bring to completion every good work that He has begun in you and in me.

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Kind Of All Over The Place

It’s cold outside, the wind is blowing, the rain is falling and I don’t know why but I feel like this is the perfect weather for Good Friday. We’re sitting in plastic chairs, eating copious amounts of popcorn and watching The Passion. It’s the movie that chronicles Jesus’ death. I’ve never watched it before tonight but now, after seeing it, I wish I had watched it sooner.

I was never allowed to watch it when I was a little kid, it was too gory, and it showed too much. This wasn’t a bad thing; I probably wouldn’t let my young kids watch it either. It was an awful movie to watch, some of the scenes made me sick, I contemplated running to the bathroom a few times actually…

Maybe you don’t have to watch this gut-wrenching (but utterly true) movie but I do think knowing how Jesus died is important. You see Jesus could have died peacefully, maybe in his sleep, painless and easy but that wasn’t the case.

In order for us to fully grasp how much Jesus loved us and in order to fully understand the grace he has given us, his death had to be brutal. It had to be awful, he had to go through the worst pain imaginable, he had to be beaten beyond recognition; he had to die this way. If his death was peaceful, I don’t think it would mean as much. Watching the horrors he went through play out on a screen left me speechless and the only thing I could think was, “He went through that for me?”

Was he thinking of me as he was whipped?

Did he think of me when he was beaten?

I tried to put myself in his place, I tried desperately to try and imagine how I would feel if I was in Jesus’ position and honestly, I couldn’t. I don’t think I could do it, which makes his suffering all the more powerful.

He loved me as the whips tore his body apart.

He loved me when the crown of thorns was pushed into his head.

He loved me as the nails were driven through his hands and feet.

He loved me as he took his final breath and died.

The weight of that truth is more than I can bear and it brings me to tears because love like that is so powerful. Love like that makes me believe that I can do anything because he loves me. Love like that gives me a place and a purpose in this broken world. Love like that means I don’t have to die. Love like that makes me a beloved and chosen daughter.

This post is kind of all over the place but I like it that way for the same reason that Good Friday is my favourite day of the year. Good Friday makes me feel so many things, sadness, grief, joy, pain, excitement, but most of all it makes me feel loved and forgiven and made new.

My Jesus died today, that’s something I can never repay him for and the craziest part? He doesn’t want me to repay him because he knows there’s nothing I can do that would be sufficient, he just wants my heart and that is enough.

When No One Raises Their Hand

You just finished explaining everything. You just finished telling the group of kids that you’ve come to love so deeply, how much they are loved and wanted by the creator of the universe and you asked if any of them would like to join his family. Then you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Until you realize that what you desperately wanted to happen, isn’t going to happen; no one is going to say, “yes” at this moment, no one is going to raise their hand.

There’s a sadness inside of you that overwhelms you in this moment and your first typical, human instinct is to look inward, selfishly. You think that you screwed up, you didn’t explain the story of Jesus well enough, like it was your job to change their hearts and make them believe in something they didn’t before.

I’m pretty sure this is something that’s happened to everyone who has ever shared the gospel a few times and I believe that it’s something we need to experience at some point, it taught me a lot.

I’m gonna be 100% honest here so watch out.

I want to see people want to follow Jesus and for about an hour after no one raised their hand, I thought it was completely my fault that they weren’t moved to want to follow Jesus. To me, this is inconsiderate. I should have been consumed with sadness simply because they decided not to follow Jesus, I should have been sad because they didn’t accept the incredible gift of grace. I should not have been too wrapped up in myself and “what I did wrong” to ignore these other things and pray that they would decide to follow Jesus some day in the future.

I think this is something that happens all too often, we want numbers, we want to see “the fruit”, we want to know that Jesus is moving in the lives of the people we’re preaching to, but sometimes that’s not the case. Sometimes Jesus makes us wait. He makes us sit there and trust him to do the work. This kills us because we want to do it all by ourselves, we want control, we want to change hearts and minds and the world and do something incredibly significant but the truth is, we can’t. Only Jesus can. Sure, we can be the messengers and we can tell people about God’s grace until we’re blue in the face but only Jesus can change hearts, only Jesus can make someone believe and only Jesus can make someone raise their hand.

So stop beating yourself up while your waiting to see results. It seems that most things I learn come down to this one simple thing… Trust Jesus and know that He is good.