36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go and pray over there.” 37 When he took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, he began to feel sad and anxious. 38 Then he said to them, “I’m very sad. It’s as if I’m dying. Stay here and keep alert with me.” 39 Then he went a short distance farther and fell on his face and prayed, “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want. – Matthew 26:36-39
Perhaps during these challenging times it may feel as though we are falling to the ground sad and anxious, shouting to the Lord “if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me.”
The season of Lent is 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday (not counting Sundays) and leading up to Easter Sunday. Lent is an emotionally charged season as we watch the ministry of Jesus unfold and the assembly of His followers begin to take form. We grow with them as we journey through what it means to be faithful disciples. We reflect upon the temptations we must overcome in our own lives as we walk with Jesus through the loneliness of the dessert. We witness miracles, healings, and loving relationships formed in the name of God’s kingdom come.
And then we come to the end. It is a roller coaster of emotions. We come to Holy Week and we know that death is to come on Friday. We shout again to God “if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me.” When we reach these moments of sadness and angst, facing death, it may be difficult to trust in God. We may lose faith; we may falter into temptation.
But the words Jesus speaks next here in verse 39 are what I find to be key in holding on to our faith in troubled times: “However-not what I want, but what you want.”
Not what I want, but what You want.
It is so hard for us humans to grasp that through suffering comes life. God is such a mystery to us that the human pain we feel blocks us from the Good News of victory over death. As we journey to the cross this Lenten season, amidst a global pandemic, separated from our families and friends, experiencing deep division and great loss; may we be reminded of the victory of the Resurrection. We journey these days in what seems to be the wilderness, unsure of what comes next, fighting off temptation after temptation, falling to our knees sad and anxious, facing the reality of death; but then in the deep dark stillness of the tomb, our victory over death and darkness is revealed. We are given new life.
Friends as we begin this Lenten journey, continuing to wander in the wilderness, may we echo the words of Jesus to God that night in the garden when facing unspeakable suffering: “Not what I want, but what you want.” May we trust in God this season, leaning into God to give us the strength to face the challenges ahead. For we know, from great darkness shall come great Light.
Stay in that Light,
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