“And when he came to the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you may not enter into temptation.’ And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’” Luke 22:40-42
A friend and I were speaking recently and he was very troubled regarding a situation that he felt was coming to a head. He knew what he wanted to do in order to avert trouble and honor God. And after he shared his heart with me I had to admit it sounded like a reasonable plan which had the potential for a positive outcome. But something was holding him back. I asked him what it was. He said, “That is my will for resolving this situation; but I just don’t know if it is God’s will. And I’m not sure how to figure out what God’s will is for this situation.”
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? Since God is conforming us into the likeness of Jesus Christ we need not look any farther than how Jesus handled the most troubling situation known to man, which was recorded in Luke 22:39-46.
1) Pray. As Christians, Satan is our arch enemy and he attempts to deceive, distort, and mislead – “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1). When facing adversity we must first pray for wisdom and understanding (James 1:5). Wisdom which will help us delineate what part of the adversity is a trial, and what part of the adversity is temptation.
A trial is an opportunity for you to practice Christ likeness by obeying God’s Word, and glorifying Him (James 1:2-4). A temptation, which cannot originate from God, is a solicitation for you to disobey God’s Word and to gratify your fleshly desires. When you yield to temptation, you inevitably experience consequences (James 1:13-15). We must pray for strength to resist rushing headlong into temptation. Satan is a strong enemy and we cannot fight him and win on our own strength. We must be strong in the strength of God (Ephesians 6:10-11).
We must understand that God wants to hear from us; wants us to rely on him; and wants us to desire his help (1 Peter 5:7, Mark 11:22-24, Matt 7:7-11). We can ask God to give us something or take something away from us; however we cannot want it more than we want God’s will to be done in a specific situation. Christ did not want to go to the cross – in fact he asked the Father for an alternative. But he also revealed His trust in the Father’s goodness and omniscience by stating that he would endure the pain, suffering, and humiliation if that is what God required.
2) Listen. Jesus knew the Scriptures of the Old Testament inside out and consistently referred to them as authoritative. 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God…”while Hebrews 4: 12 states that, “For the word of God is living and active…” God uses the Scriptures to speak to us and they are alive with His instruction. Whenever we face adversity we must seek the Scriptures diligently for clarity and counsel on how to proceed so as to please Him (Proverbs 4:20-27).
3) Act in humility. The only door open to Jesus was the one which lead to the cross. He asked for another door to be opened – an alternative but God did not provide it. Jesus didn’t try to create his own door (another option) in his own strength, because he understood that if God wanted him to go in another direction then God would provide the direction through an alternative option; and it would be readily apparent to Jesus. That alternative was never presented and so Jesus went to the cross in faith and trust.
At some point in time we must act and move forward. But as we do so it is important to acknowledge the power, wisdom, and holiness that only God secures (Psalm 147:5-6, Proverbs 3:5-6). Through prayer share with God how you see and understand the landscape of your situation. Explain to him how you plan on moving forward. Ask him to rule and overrule your plans by closing doors that may be harmful to step through, and opening doors which lead to His will being done (Revelation 3:8, Matthew 7:7). And then as those prayers are answered and doors are opened, step through them in faith and trust understanding that God is working all things together for good, according to His purpose, in the lives of Christ followers.
My friend is still in the midst of working through his situation but he now has a much clearer picture of how to seek, pursue, and fulfill God’s will; not only in this time of adversity but in times to come.
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© 2016 Michael Martin