And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:39
In one of my lowest, most broken moments, I yelled at God, “Why is this okay with you? Because it’s not okay with me!” In the years since, I’ve essentially asked that question of God many times. Maybe you’ve had a similar moment of anger or desperation. Now think about Jonah. He’s been saying the same thing to God all along! Why is the repentance of the Ninevites okay with you, God? Because it’s not okay with me! Why is the death of this plant okay with you, God? Because it’s not okay with me! My will should be done, God, and you should get with the program!
Seeking our own will always seems justified in the moment. After all, our will is usually in line with the perfect future we imagine for ourselves. And it’s not that those things are always, or often, bad. But what if God’s future is a better future? Jonah clung to his own will at the expense of the better option and bigger vision God was inviting him into. Even if we can’t see it in the moment, God’s will has something bigger and better for us than even the best we can imagine on our own.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t difficult, or even costly, to pray “your will be done, God.” Today is Good Friday. The night before his death, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed “your will be done,” not once but three times. And then he walked in obedience, even though it meant his death on a cross, so that we might have a better future: restored relationship with God instead of hopeless separation from him.
Today, soak in the fact that Jesus responded differently than Jonah and that changed everything. Slowly read through Matthew 26:36-46. Maybe attend a Good Friday service and worship God in community with others. Thank Jesus for the impact of praying “your will be done” and ask him to give you a heart like his, seeking God’s will and his (and our) bigger future.
By Jessica Rust