There have been several moments, during the last month, when I’ve felt overwhelmed by all the curve balls that life has been throwing at me.

Whether it’s dealing with a rather large stream of niggly hassles. Or juggling ongoing caring responsibilities. Or preparing talks. Or scrambling to meet writing deadlines. Or trying to be kind to those around me who are evidently stressed. Or learning not to feel guilty about sometimes saying ‘no’ to all the people who want a piece of me and my time.

On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself praying, “Please take this away from me, God”!

***

But nothing is as overwhelming as the situation Jesus faced during Holy Week, in the days leading up to his crucifixion.

In Mark 14 and 15 (NLT), we read that he was:

Betrayed. Kissed. Seized. Arrested. Deserted. Testified falsely against. Taunted. Condemned. Spat at. Blindfolded. Struck with fists. Taken. Beaten. Goaded. Denied by one of his closest friends. Rejected. Bound. Led away. Handed over. Unfairly tried. Unjustly charged. Flogged. Mocked. Insulted. Suffered. Crucified.

What a list!

How did he handle such barbarity?

The key seems to lie in a verse that I’ve been pondering this Holy Week, a verse that has been helping me to handle my feelings of overwhelm, as I learn from Jesus’ example. It is set in the Garden of Gethsemane in the early hours of Good Friday morning:

“Abba, Father,” he cried out, “Everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” (Mark 14:36 NLT)

In these three simple sentences, I want to pull out three simple truths, which I have been finding helpful.

  • Abba, Father,” he cried out.

How do we relate to God?

As the darkness, both literal and spiritual, wraps around Jesus, he falls to his knees and prays. He doesn’t turn away from God; he presses in, crying out, “Abba, Father”.

Abba” is like “Daddy” or “Papa”. It’s an Aramaic word that captures the intimate, loving, tender, trusting and childlike relationship that the Son has with his heavenly Father.

“Father” is a word that highlights God’s authority, protection and wisdom. It signifies Jesus’ desire to trust, obey and submit to him.

By combining these two words together, Jesus is revealing the nature of his relationship with his heavenly Father. He is showing us that all we have to do is cry out to our heavenly Daddy, our heavenly Papa, and he will hear.  

  • “Everything is possible for you”

Do we believe that everything is possible to God?

Not just a few things, or some things, or a single thing. But everything. All things.

It means that ALL THINGS are possible for God, who knows the end from the beginning, and is in control, whether we are aware of it or not.

It means that all things are POSSIBLE for God, who is a miracle-working God, able to do immeasurably more than anything we could ever ask or imagine.

It means that all things are possible for GOD, who is sovereign over all sickness and suffering, all people and their nations, all events and their consequences.

  • “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Are we able to join Jesus in saying this and meaning it?

It’s not about our will, our wants or our desires. It’s about God’s will, God’s wants and God’s desires.

It’s not about choosing the easy options. It’s about pushing through pain and suffering, grief and anguish, choosing to die to self.

It’s not about getting our own way. It’s about relinquishing our sense of control and self-sufficiency, acknowledging our dependence on God.

It’s not about understanding what’s happening. It’s about accepting that God is governing what’s happening, so his plans and purposes prevail.

It’s my humble opinion that the whole of human history hinges on Jesus following through on this simple sentence: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Just imagine what would have happened if he hadn’t!  

***

As you ponder this ‘thought for the month’, I’ve got a few questions for you to consider.

How do you handle situations of suffering, stress and pressure? How do you handle feelings of overwhelm? To what extent are you able to take your concerns to God, as your heavenly Abba, Daddy, Papa, in prayer? Is that how you view him?

What might you be facing, which seems impossible to resolve, in human terms? How much are you willing to accept that everything is possible for God?

What if God were to ask you to do something difficult or sacrificial? Would you be willing to let God’s will be done, rather than your own?

As ever, constructive comments are welcome below!

(Please note: This is my ‘thought for the month’ reflection for March. (You can find all my ‘thought for the month’ reflections here.)

Photo my own, taken in 2010 in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jerusalem.

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4 Comments

  1. Pamela Hunt Reply

    Dearest Joanna
    What a timely message for me , your message of the month. I have been totally squashed by so much. So much so I was in tears yesterday saying I’m drowning. I have been crying out to God telling him ( although I know He knows) I can’t take any more. But your words have been such an encouragement. Even though it’s not nice I know He is in it and will bring me through
    Bless you this Easter & beyond with the love of Christ.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thank you for taking the time to read, and comment on, my thought for the month, Pamela. I’m so glad to hear that my words have been an encouragement, in the midst of all that is squashing you and making you feel like you’re drowning. It sounds really hard but, as you say, God will bring you through. Happy Easter to you too!

  2. What came to me this morning was how astonishing it was that Jesus managed to overcome every human instinct of self-preservation, and choose to be crucified, that terrible way to die. For he didn’t have to die. He only had to ask his Father and he would have been whisked back to safety in heaven. (Matthew 26:53)

    So what gave him the motivation? Was it his desire to fulfil all that the scriptures had foretold? (Matthew 26:54) Was it for the reward that he knew would follow his crucifixion? (Hebrews 12:2; Isaiah 53:11) Was it for love of you and me, to destroy the hold of sin and death and the devil over us? (Hebrews 3:14,15) Or was it his strong tie of love and obedience to his Father in heaven, something that was more important to him then anything on earth or in heaven? (Luke 22:42) I’m sure it was all those things, but I agree with you, Joanna. I think that, principally, at least, it was his love for his Father: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

    But how can you and I say that, when everything within us wants to choose another path? We can say that, if we too love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength. But failing that, we can still say it, if we fully believe that God’s will for us is good, acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1,2), however it may look, because his love for us is perfect too. Believing that is another, but perhaps far easier, choice we can make.

    • Joanna Watson Reply

      Thanks for this thoughtful and comprehensive comment, Arnold. You’re quite right that it can sometimes be easier to believe it, and say it, than it can be to actually act it out. But we have to make that choice.

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