Where is God in My Suffering?

Matthew 26:36-44

Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
And he went a little farther and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, “What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. he went away again the second time, and prayed, saying “O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

This scene from Jesus life has always fascinated me. It is a direct window into a moment so intimate and personal--full of mystery. Jesus is wrestling in prayer, trying to come to a place of total surrender and submission to God’s will for him. What he was about to face was so much more than just a brutal beating and slow, painful death on the cross— somehow, someway, Jesus was going to be a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world— my sins and yours.

This thought appears to have shaken him to his very core. Jesus, the one who said I am the Father are one, is wrestling with the will of the Father. Jesus, the one who had the power to calm the storm with the words “peace be still”, found himself in the midst of a storm not so easily calmed. He was distressed to the point where his sweat became like drops of blood. He prayed Father, please...let this cup pass from me.

He had with him his 3 closest friends on earth—Peter, James and John. Yet they could give him little comfort. When Jesus found them sleeping, he exhorted them to pray, that they may not be tempted, telling them “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. I get the sense that Jesus is speaking of what he is feeling at that moment. In his spirit, Jesus wants to do the will of the Father, yet in the flesh he is tempted to abandon the task God set before him... God’s perfect will for Him.

Jesus is divine, but he was also human. And at that point I think He was feeling His humanity in all its weakness. But despite His own desire to have this cup pass from Him, he submits to God and says “not my will but Thine be done”. Jesus went on to suffer and die on the cross, providing salvation for all who would accept it, because he loves the Father and he loves you and me.

Dear Reader, are suffering in the midst of this pandemic? Are you or someone you love ill with the COVID 19 virus? Perhaps because of the quarantine you are isolated from

those you love the most. Those whose comfort you need, or those you long to comfort. I can only imagine that in this illness you have been handed a cup from which you would rather not drink. It is difficult to see the purpose in it...you pray, surely God there must be some other way!

If you are a Christian you may be able to relate to Jesus’ sentiment in the Garden...Your spirit is willing, desiring to trust God and walk with Him, but the flesh is weak. You are feeling anxious and scared. It is OK to feel that way and wrestle with these emotions—I think Jesus did that night in the garden.

Because of the suffering Jesus went through, we have a Savior who can empathize with us in our suffering. He knows what it is like to be in agony and be alone. Where is God in your suffering? He is not distant. He is right beside you. You may be in the situation that your earthly friends and family cannot come alongside you, but Jesus can comfort in a way they cannot. In Romans 8:17-28 God promises that the suffering of this present time is nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed in us; Christians will be delivered from a body of corruption to immortality. If you are not a Christian, read the article on this web page entitled “I am afraid”. Now is the time to accept God’s offer of eternal life. He loves you. He hurts with you. He is waiting to comfort you.

If you find yourself in the dark valley of suffering right now—you don’t have to like it. But consider Jesus. Love Him more for the suffering He endured for you and me. Cling to him, and say with him, “not my will but Thine be done”, knowing He has a purpose in it. May God give you strength and courage to drink from the cup He has given you.

In Christian Love,

Steve Long