“Not my will, but yours, be done.”
I don’t know about you, but I find these to be some of the most challenging words in all of Scripture. I have a natural rebellion against submitting to anyone else’s will but my own. My instinct is to reject authority for the sake of rejecting authority. No one is going to control me.
But what good is an unbroken horse? What good is a donkey that won’t listen? They are unable to serve their masters and so are useless.
Of course, I’m worth far more than any beast of burden, and so are you. It’s not quite right as a comparison.
Nevertheless, I act like a donkey or a horse that needs controlling when I reject God’s authority. In fact, I reduce myself to them when I rebel against God’s good rule. So why do I do it?
Among the many reasons we reject the rule of God is a lack of trust. I don’t trust that God’s rule is going to be good for my life. Of course, when God asks me to do something I don’t want to do because it will hurt or be uncomfortable or dangerous, that’s when my rebellion really kicks in. From where I sit, his will doesn’t look good for me. Why should I trust him?
Of course, this prayer about God’s will comes from the mouth of Jesus himself. And what was God’s will for his own Son? That he should die a shameful and painful death at the hands of lawless men, and that he should bear the full measure God’s wrath. Nothing could be worse.
God did not make himself immune to suffering and death, but instead in Jesus he bore them on the cross. His death was for our sake. His suffering was in our behalf. And though the disciples despaired on Saturday, Sunday brought a wave of fresh hope, a greater hope than they ever could have anticipated. Jesus was alive again.
The will of God is good for us, even though it may not seem like it because it involves suffering and hardship. But we only need to look at the life and death of Jesus to see that suffering and hardship are not the end of the story. They are only the beginning.
We have to remind ourselves of these truths in order to make our spirits humble and trusting. And we do that by looking again and again at the cross, at the death of Jesus. We know God’s will is trustworthy, even if it involves hardship.
Jesus, thank you for dying in my place. Thank you for suffering in my behalf. Thank you for teaching us to obey and showing us that the will of God is ultimately good, even when it looks bad for us in the short term. Help us to honor your name with our lives.