“I want your will, not mine” ~Matthew 26:39
Tony waited patiently until the final person left the bible study. He had a question for Alex, one that he’d been pondering for some months.
“Well, Tony, what’s on your mind tonight. You seem unhappy or perhaps disappointed.”
“You hit the nail on the head, Alex. I am disappointed and, I guess, unhappy,” he said, feeling a little foolish now, like a child approaching the teacher. “Why won’t God bless me? I tithe regularly. I even give extra when I see a need. I never miss church service or your bible study. Any time pastor mentions helpers are needed somewhere, if it meets with my work schedule, I volunteer. I pray, repent, forgive others. I am lined right up with all the things that should make me happy but God will not bless me!”
Pouring them both another cup of coffee, Alex said, “I think you need to define bless before I can help.”
“Alright, I mean better living conditions, more money, a better car, more friends, recognition from people for my efforts; heck, I’ve missed being promoted two times in the past year and my car is always breaking down.”
“I see. You believe God sent Jesus to the earth to experience humiliation, scorning, a horrific beating, and death so we could have more stuff?”
Tony was stunned to hear his obviously petty, selfish feelings exposed in this way. He wanted the earth to open and swallow him. Am I really this petty, he wondered.
“Breathe, Tony. It’s ok, we all have those feelings some of the time. The key to shaking them off is to dive into God’s Word and to ask God to give you understanding. For example look at Matthew 26:36-39 where Jesus is praying in the garden of Gethsemane. He knows exactly what is about to happen on the following day— he will be killed! He says, “My soul is crushed with horror and sadness to the point of death. . .” Then he prays, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
“So what do you think, Tony, was Jesus entitled to God’s blessings?”
“Of course. More than anyone who ever lived.”
“Yes. I agree. But then why was he treated so wickedly. Killed like an ordinary criminal, hanging on a cross? He is the Messiah after all.”
Tony couldn’t stop his tears. In a moment he composed himself and said, “In a way, I feel what Peter must have felt when the rooster crowed that morning. I feel petty and selfish.”
“I’ve never considered that analogy, Tony but I think you may be right. And you are feeling those things because that is how you’re behaving. Now, before you beat yourself with that self-pity club, you must understand we all struggle with this. Anytime we look at our lives and compare them to those who have more we’re using the world’s standards, not God’s. God is interested in healing our hearts, not our cars! Quite the contrary, actually. We must be like Jesus, totally surrendered and ready for suffering to continue and death to come if that is God’s will.
“Would you consider the Apostle Paul a man who followed God, Tony?”
“Of course, Alex.”
“And yet, in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, he begged God to take away his thorn in the flesh but God said, ‘My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.’ So, according to your list of things, can you say Paul was not blessed by God?”
“I’m stunned. I’ve never seen this so clearly, Alex. I am so wrong.”
“Let’s continue in 2 Corinthians, ‘So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me. Since I know it is all for Christ’s good, I am quite content with my weaknesses and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
“Before we end this eye-opening moment, Tony, I want to look at one more Scripture: Philippians 3:10, ‘All I want is to know Christ and feel the power of His resurrection; to share in His sufferings and become like Him. (TEV)
“What do you think may happen in our lives if we pray this Scripture daily? How might we be changed over and over again, refined into the men of God Jesus died for? Tony, thank you for your courage to share with me tonight. I feel as though God has looked into my eyes and said, “Alex, are you willing to give all, to suffer for my name if I deem it necessary?”
Tony and Alex knelt together and prayed “Not my will but Yours be done.”