Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever felt as though your friends and family had abandoned you? Have you ever felt like you were misunderstood? Have you ever had a hard time understanding or submitting to the will of God for your life? If so, then you have an idea of what the Lord Jesus went through as He agonized at Gethsemane.
Hebrews tells us, "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it" (4:15-16 NLT).
Consider the fact that Jesus, who was God, was omniscient. He was all-knowing. Therefore, He was fully aware of the horrors of the crucifixion that awaited Him. He knew His disciples would abandon him. He knew Judas Iscariot would betray Him. He knew that Simon Peter would deny Him. He knew they would rip His back open, press a crown of thorns into His head, beat Him, spit in His face, and crucify Him. Worst of all, He knew that all the sins of the world would be placed upon Him.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was "a Man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). But the sorrow He experienced in Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion seemed to be the culmination of all the sorrow He had ever known and would accelerate to a climax the following day. The ultimate triumph that was to take place at Calvary was first accomplished beneath the gnarled old olive trees of Gethsemane.
Jesus told Peter, James, and John, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch" (Mark 14:34). Jesus' sorrow and anguish was so powerful, it threatened His very life. In the face of this dreadful prospect of bearing God's full fury against sin, Jesus knelt to the ground and began to pray. This was not a quiet whisper of a prayer. Hebrews 5:7 tells us, "While Jesus was here on earth, he offered prayers and pleadings, with a loud cry and tears, to the one who could deliver him out of death. And God heard his prayers because of his reverence for God" (NLT). It is interesting that the very word Gethsemane means "olive press." Olives were pressed there to make oil, and truly, Jesus was being pressed from all sides that He might bring life to us. I don't think we can even begin to fathom what He was going through.
Maybe you are at a crisis point in your life right now, a personal Gethsemane, if you will. You have your will; you know what you want. Yet you can sense that God’s will is different. Would you let the Lord choose for you? Would you be willing to say, "Lord, I am submitting my will to Yours. Not my will, but yours be done?" You will not regret making that decision.
Sometimes we are afraid to do this, because we have a false concept that God's will for us is not good. You might be thinking, "How about His plan for Jesus? That didn't seem very good." No question, it was very difficult for Jesus, to say the least. No question, He faced the full wrath of God against all sin. But look at what it accomplished. It brought about your salvation and mine. Because of what Jesus went through at Gethsemane, and ultimately at the cross, we can call upon His name. Though it was an unfathomably painful, horrific transition, it was necessary for the ultimate goal of what was accomplished.
Maybe you are going through a difficult time. Ultimately, it will be so much better if you allow the Lord to choose His plan for you. One day, you will be able to look back and say, "Lord, thank you for making that choice." God's plans for you are good. As Jeremiah tells us, the thoughts that God thinks toward you are "thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope" (29:11 NKJV).
In our moments of uncertainty, in those times when we think that everyone has let us down, remember that Jesus has been there and is there for us. God's plans for you are so much better than the plans you have for yourself. Will you let Him choose?
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!