Replicating Christ’s character is the best way to prepare yourself to remain faithful during difficult times.
It was the night before Jesus trial; His betrayal and arrest would soon eventuate. Taking Peter, James and John, Jesus escaped the city and went to Gethsemane for pray. Jesus explained to His three disciples; “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus didn’t avoid human companionship even though He knew the horrific events which were about to unfold. His instructions were simple; “remain here, and watch with me.”
Jesus knew the weakness of His disciples; even so, He still engaged them in this intimate time of prayer. Falling on His face, Jesus prayed; “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Mt 26:39). The intense stress of realising that His death would be the next day, brought Jesus face to face with the reality of God’s will for Him. Humanly speaking, He asked for a way out. Then He at once surrendered to the will of His Father.
- Be in prayer as preparation for suffering.
- Yield to God’s will even if it goes against your human desires.
- Include trusted believers who will share the intimacy of your suffering. Even if those friends disappoint you, still include them. Seek fellowship where you talk of the Lord together.
What a fantastic opportunity Peter, James and John had. Learning from Jesus about preparing to remain faithful to God through the most extreme suffering imaginable. Instead, Jesus “found them sleeping” (Mt 26:40). Sadly, I can see myself in these men. Instead of getting their minds aligned with the sovereign will of God, they slept. They could not even record the rest of Jesus prayer because they were sleeping instead of listening.
Personalising spiritual realities
As we read on, Jesus exhorted His three drowsy disciples; “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mt 26:41). Jesus, despite His severe anxiety over the certainty of crucifixion, speaks kind, yet strong words to Peter, James and John. Key to remaining faithful during intense suffering is personalising these three spiritual realities.
- Prayerfully be alert to the seduction of temptation. Sin will happily seize any opportunity to lure you into transgression when you feel weak. Recognise the deadly poison of having a soft attitude towards sin. It can only master you if you allow it.
- When you realise that you have right desires for the Lord while you are suffering, surrender them to action. No matter how difficult life becomes, there is always some way in which you can serve the Lord. Thank God often for the working of His Holy Spirit within you, especially in giving you a willing attitude.
- In humility, be honest about your own weaknesses. Sin can cause a caustic attitude which focuses on other’s imperfections. Keep your eyes on Jesus, and on healthy Christian relationships which inspire your faithfulness.
I encourage you to think often of Christ. Then think of ways in which you can grow in these critical areas of life as you prepare yourself for faithfulness.