Photo credit to Brittany Cunningham
Mat 26:41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Stress. That’s my word for today. Stress. Stress. Stress. How am I supposed to deal with it rightly? You, Lord, repeatedly tell us, “Therefore do not be anxious…” You even go so far as to say it this way, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” So what does that mean? Because it sounds to me like even if I keep myself from making myself anxious over things, the days in themselves are going to throw their own anxiety at me without me even contributing. Yes, that’s happening a lot lately. So my question today is, Lord, how do I handle it rightly?
Here’s the deal. It seems to me like my heart and my mind aren’t anxious. I’m not worried. I know that You are working all things, yes, ALL things for my good and Your glory. But I feel the anxiety in my body. I wonder if I’m grinding my teeth. I’m getting headaches. I feel on edge. I can’t concentrate as well. I just feel it in my body. It’s tense. It’s like my body acts one way and my mind and heart want to act another. How do I get a handle on it? Do I get to get a handle on it?
So I’m glad to come to remember Your words about the spirit being willing but the body being weak, because, obviously, my body is weak. My spirit is willing, it’s eager and prepared. But my flesh is a whole other story. My flesh is weak. It’s asthenes. It’s strengthless whether you look at it literally, figuratively or morally. It’s feeble, impotent, sick, without strength. And that’s bad, isn’t it?
Or is it? Because You say that when I am weak, then I am strong. Well, that’s a paradox, isn’t it? How can I can I be weak but strong? Maybe it’s not about my strength. Maybe it’s always about Your strength.
It’s interesting to say the least, how I started thinking about this a couple days ago, and then at church this morning, Pastor Mark preached on how You, Lord, handle trouble. And I really appreciated the verses he shared. “And Jesus answered them, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly , I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. Now is My soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (John 12:23-28) And this is such a tremendous help because if I want to know how to rightly handle trouble and stress, I need to know how You handled it. And if there was ever a place or a time that You were under the most stress ever, this is that time. So how did You handle it?
I want to look closely at verse 27. Here’s how You felt. “Now is my soul troubled.” That word, troubled, is “tarasso” in Greek. It can mean anything from stirring the water or being agitated, or extend all the way to the extreme of being terrified, or effected by grief or anxiety. Really? Jesus, You felt those things? You felt that way? It’s not hard to understand that You would feel this way at this time. You knew what was coming; it was the whole reason You came. You were about to offer Your life for mine, for all people. You were about to do something no other person could ever do. You were about to go through the greatest suffering ever and it was by Your own choice and design. God had purposed this from the start. And the moment was almost here.
It was more than physical suffering and humiliation and crucifixion. Lots of people have been put through that and still are being put through that, especially at the hands of ISIS. But You were the only One who could bear our sin on top of all that. Now I’ve been thinking about that. I’ve been thinking about the intensity of Your suffering for me. I’ve been thinking about the physical and emotional pain You bore. But I’ve also been thinking about the pain of bearing all our sin. I can’t even understand that. How does a perfectly holy and just God who abhors sin, take the sin of every person on Himself? How do You bear that which You loathe?
Yes, Your soul was more troubled than I have ever been and than I could ever imagine. For me, for every individual person who has ever existed or who ever will, You bore what was antagonistic to Your very being. You became sin for me. That in itself was worse for You than all the torture. But You took on both the torture and the darkness and grossness of our sin. And what should You say? “Father, save Me from this hour. Father don’t make Me bear their sin. Don’t make Me suffer like this for them. Don’t make Me bear and experience their darkness.” Is that what You should have said? No. If You had said that, then You wouldn’t be Who You Are.
Who are You? You are the One who came for this specific purpose. This was the cause You came for . This was Your hour to shine the brightest. This greatest trouble of all time was Your time to glorify the Father above all troubles and be glorified in Him. This was Your opportunity to overcome darkness. This was Your opportunity to redeem Your people unto Yourself. Through this act, God would be glorified. His plan would be fulfilled. His will would be done. This was the hour that had been designed before time to fulfill God’s plan and bring glory to His name.
So what does this teach me about how I am to handle my problems and trials and stressful situations? I need to view all these tough situations as being designed in my life for one purpose- that God should be glorified. Every one of these tough things in my life brings me face to face with determining who I love more, my way and my life or Your way and Your life. Can I come to the point of detesting my own way and loving Your way more, despite the pain? Would I accept what I detest if it meant glorifying You to bear it for a time? Because if I can’t do that and if I’m not willing to do that, then how can I really serve You? If I can’t follow You where You walk, then how can I be where You are? If bearing suffering in a God glorifying way isn’t part of my life, than how much are You a part of my life?
Do I cry out to be delivered from all my troubles? Or do I cry out for You to be glorified in the midst of them? Could I declare like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him”? Can I see the bigger picture and trust in You regardless of whether I see? Can I trust that You see and know all that I need? Because isn’t that what trusting is? Isn’t that when I know, without having to see, that You have it all under control and that You truly have my best interests in mind? So, can I surrender to the tough situations in my life as unto You? Is Your glory that important to me?
I think of people that You have placed in my life. People who have been through very hard trials in their lives. People who are still going through hard trials. I watch them. I listen. I walk with them. I see how they surrender to You. I see how they look at these hardships as times to grow in You and glorify You. I see You using their weakness to make much of Yourself. Because how can we be strong when we are weak? The credit has to go to Someone Else. And it does.
I just looked up and saw these following words from Job. He says this of You. “He also shall be my salvation…” (Job 13:16) “He also shall be my Yshuah.” That’s Your name, Jesus. You are Yshuah. You are Salvation. You are deliverance. You are victory. You are health. You are aid. You are my welfare. You gave Your life for me to become my Yshuah. And it wasn’t just in word. You gave Your life so I could have Your life. But I must give my life to You to receive Your life.
Lord, I don’t know how to respond in every situation. I’m flawed. But I want to glorify You in the midst of every trouble. I want to understand how You would respond and I want to respond in Your love and power and grace. Fill me with You so that I will respond rightly. I’m weak. I’ll be the first to admit it. I can’t respond rightly without You. I’m desperately needy. But You are able to deliver me through my troubles. Even if I must stand in the midst of burning flames, You can give me the strength to lift my hands above my head and clap as I burn so that You are glorified and others know that You bear us in Your strength through every tough thing. (That account was related in Fox’s Book of Martyrs) Let me always remember Your troubled soul, so that I can always run to You for understanding, strength, and encouragement.
You know, sometimes I feel like a worm. But that’s OK. You understand what it is to be treated like a worm and feel like a worm too. They made fun of You for trusting in God. They made fun of You for delighting in Him. But Your trust paid off. He did deliver You. He always has and always will delight in You. And I want to trust You like that, no matter what the people say or what the circumstances around me say. Thank You for experiencing being a worm. Because You know me. And You are the most glorious Worm ever. And if I must follow You as a worm, then make me a beautiful worm in You. I’d be the most joyful worm in the world to look like You.