While facing a difficult situation in the past months I longed to hear from the Father about how one suffers well. I studied Jesus sorrow in the garden. Wow, He agonized in there. I’ve observed several things in His process that have so changed my life.
1. He agonized in His deep pain.
2. He longed for this cup to pass from Him.
3. He desired companionship when He suffered.
4. He wrestled and writhed with what lay ahead.
5. As He sorrowed through the depth of the grief in his heart IN the Father’s presence He was moved to surrender. “Not my will, Father, Thine be done.”
Over the years if I agonized I thought I was sinning. For sure I wasn’t suffering well. It had to be sin. If I longed for this to pass--I condemned myself for not being willing. If I wrestled I was sure it meant I wasn’t trusting the Father. So I was sinful again. I’ve lived a life of self-condemnation.
I am sooo thankful to learn that to struggle well--allows me to struggle. It allows me to long, to agonize. As I writhe in my sorrow, under the shadow of His wings, I find ability to come to the Father and that leads me to quietness, surrender.
I am so blessed to learn that because I am His, He’s staying beside me in the struggle. He’s ok with my battle.
Sin happens if I choose to never overcome my bitter anguish. It happens if I chose to live my life in wretched rottenness. But the process of coming to rest, of giving way to surrender is not sin, and it may take several weeks or months.
When my heart was twisted with self-condemnation over the years I felt stagnant in my growth process. I now sense a freedom as I battle through difficulties in the presence of the Father. And that moves me to deeper places in Him.
He says to me, Donna, to you who are in ME, there is nooo condemnation! None! Romans 8:1. This causes me to long to serve Him well, to obey Him well.
A couple of weeks ago Bob and I were traveling through the night. We had looked at our airline tickets wrong and missed our flight to a speaking engagement eighteen hours away. We had just enough time to get there if we left the airport immediately and drove hard.
I dozed off for a few minutes sometime through the long dark night. I woke up somewhat abruptly and felt panicky with fear. I began to sob in my exhausted state. Bob said, “Honey, relax, everything is ok?” I told him, “I am so scared.”
Through my wrenching sobs I burst out my fears to Bob.
1. An accident. Four of my grandchildren had recently lost their other grandmother and were still grieving bitterly. What if I would die also?
2. If I didn’t get enough sleep I would either faint or cry when I stood up to speak.
3. How could I speak to women about rest “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” if I lived in fear myself.
Bob held me close and prayed for me. Suddenly I sensed the Father reminding me that He’s ok with my fear--which was exactly what I intended to share with the ladies the next day. He’s going to cover over me with the shadow of His wings until this calamity (the long dark night) is overpast. I felt Him pull me close to Himself. My sobs quieted. My shaking body stilled. I fell asleep knowing that “Though He slay me, yet I would trust in Him.” The Father’s acceptance of my struggle, rather than my previous method of condemnation, brought quietness to my soul.
As our Lord sorrowed through that dark, dark night in the garden His own pain brought Him close, so close to our difficulty. I find His agonizingly sorrowful night is one where I can so fully see Him as my loving, gentle Shepherd. I sense as He knelt there He longed for you and me to know He’s been through aguish also.
He knows what it’s like to feel painful rejection from others. He’s felt the gripping sorrow of gossipers. He feels with us when we’re caught between two decisions. He identifies with us in our longing for friends only to find them sleeping or too busy. He’s walked the tortuous path of broken relationships. He’s even keenly aware of His Father God telling Him no, gently, but truly a “no” to His prayer to please take this cup from Him.
His hand that reaches down to mine during my own despair, and over my own wretched battling of deep grief is the pierced hand that sorrowed through far greater agony than I will ever comprehend. His love for you and me is beyond our ability to conceive.
See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e’re such love and sorrow meet,
Love so amazing sooo divine, demands my soul, my life my all…
(When I survey the Wondrous Cross)
Noo -- we don’t deserve one second of His grace. Our own selfishness and rottenness lies bleak and hopeless before us. Because of the Father’s marvelous grace, because He sees us through His blood, because we are redeemed, because He has credited righteousness to our account as He sorrowed through that long dark night, we can know that our Father understands no matter how dark our path. Living in that grace enables us the ability to suffer well.
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