Praying In Pain and Uncertainty
“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Jesus’ prayer to Abba acknowledges how everything is available to God. There’s not a resource (be it person, material means, emotional stirring, supernatural agent, or natural occurrence) that God doesn’t have instantly and creatively available and at Divine disposal. But Jesus then brings his agonizing suffering, deep impending loneliness, and complete betrayal by his closest relationships into the presence of Abba. There is a cup before Jesus and he knows it is a cup of suffering. The summation of the weight of all humanity’s evil, brokenness, despair, hatred, isolation, selfishness, pain, and violence–namely, humanity’s sin, is contained within that one cup before him. Jesus knows better and more fully than any of us the contents of this cup of suffering. And he is utterly honest with God about wanting to escape it.
Can any of us blame Jesus? Aren’t some of our most faith-stretching moments when we (or someone we love) are enduring unspeakable suffering? Don’t we find ourselves wondering ‘Where God Is?’ when confronted with genocide, famine, or epidemic? Or when we find ourselves caught up in habitual sin patterns or cyclical addictions? Jesus has the weight and depth of all of that in the cup before him. Which makes the last line of his prayer so amazing.
‘Yet not what I will, but what you will.’ It’s a complete and total surrender. Letting go of everything except an unwavering trust In Abba. His submission to Abba seems to trust God can even resourcefully take all the suffering, evil, violence, and chaos of the world and use it for good. Both the good of Jesus and the whole world (Heb. 2:10). Jesus doesn’t ultimately yield to a self-improvement strategy, emergency contingency protocol or an adversity avoidance method. He yields his total self into the compassionate arms of his Abba. No guarantees. No conditions. Just Abba. As the cross looms before him he trusts this is enough for all he will endure.