Because even at this moment, hanging from a tree with blood running down His sides, God made His moment about us.
If you told me a decade ago that I would be a high school English teacher, I probably would have said you were lying. As a teenager, I had my heart set on being a veterinarian. I was obsessed with animals and genuinely thought I could save the planet. But at fourteen years old, God took away one passion and replaced it with another: authorship.
On the surface, being an author and a teacher doesn't seem to align. Teaching requires talking all day, planning lessons, and maintaining your "A" game for nine months out of the year. Writing requires long hours of thought, manuscript, editing, and publishing twenty-four seven.
Teaching is extroverted.
Writing is introverted.
Teaching is public.
Writing is private.
Teaching requires grit.
Writing requires passion.
Yet this year, more than ever, God reveals to me that I am called to both. And at least while in this season, I will surrender to His will and not my own.
A Humble Submission
In Luke 22, a famous passage of Scripture recounts Jesus' similar conversation with His Father:
"Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine" (Luke 22:42, NLT).
The New International Version says it this way:
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).
Shortly after the Last Supper, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives to pray. He had just told His disciples that Judas would betray Him and He would be killed. As a result, He went to do what He always did: submit and pray.
"Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation." He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down, and prayed" (Luke 22:39-41, NIV).
What I find most beautiful about Jesus' prayer and submission to the Father was His ability to say, "not my will, but yours be done." If I am being honest, it is much easier to say we want God's will when it is what we want but much more difficult in the form of persecution, pain, heartbreak, and suffering.
It is easy to say, "Lord, make me an author."
It is difficult to say, "Lord, if you want me to be a teacher, I will."
It is easy to say, "Lord, please give me what I want and desire."
It is difficult to say, "Lord, please give me what I need."
Lord, Give Us What We Need
Although Jesus prayed in the Garden for His death and crucifixion to come another way, He also prayed that God would give Him what He needed.
The death of Jesus was not beautiful. It was a horrific, painful, and traumatizing event that no person, let alone the Son of God, should have to go through. And God didn't send Jesus to die to punish Him. He didn't send His own Son to be murdered for a lack of love.
He sent Him to demonstrate His love for us.
He sent Him to reveal His greater plan.
He sent Him to prove just how far His love would go.
When our prayers are not answered the way we wish, let us remember that Jesus' prayers were not answered the way He wished they were either (that He wouldn't have had to die such a horrible death), yet God had a greater, more miraculous plan. And though God did not answer Jesus the way we might have expected, He did give Him strength for His time of need.
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him" (Luke 22:42-43, NIV).
And when Jesus gave His last breath on this earth, hanging from a cross, not only did He say "it is finished," but "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing" (John 19:30, Luke 23:34).
Because even at this moment, hanging from a tree with blood running down His sides, God made His moment about us. He gave us what we needed by sending His only Son to die for our sins. He knew we could never pay the price, but only He and His Son could.
Pray A Difficult Prayer
Praying "not my will, but yours be done" is difficult. I am sure it was difficult for Jesus. I am confident it is troubling and challenging now.
But when we pray for His will to be done above all, let us be encouraged that just as He strengthened Jesus in His time of need, how much more will He care for and strengthen us?
If God loved us enough to send His own Son Jesus to die for our sins, surely He will send angels to guide, love, and support us in our challenges here and now.
When we pray, God strengthens enough—enough for each day, moment, minute, and second. And while we may not see or feel the physical presence of an angel as Jesus did, we, too, are strengthened by those He sent to guard over and protect us along the way.
That I am sure of and will place my confidence.
Not My Will.
But His Be Done.
Here on Earth.
And in Heaven.
"An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (Luke 22:43-46, NIV).
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes
Amber Ginter is a teacher-turned-author who loves Jesus, her husband Ben, and granola. Growing up Amber looked for faith and mental health resources and found none. Today, she offers hope for young Christians struggling with mental illness that goes beyond simply reading your Bible and praying more. Because you can love Jesus and still suffer from anxiety. You can download her top faith and mental health resources for free to help navigate books, podcasts, videos, and influencers from a faith lens perspective. Visit her website at amberginter.com.