Surrender and trust

I have a friend who is doubly suffering – in body and in spirit.

His bodily pain is greater than anything I have ever faced.  He has consulted doctors and they have yet to find what is at the root of his illness.  He cries out to God for healing and is despondent because healing does not come.

I struggle to find words to give him hope and comfort.  Anything I say will sound trite because I have not gone through his trials. And yet . . . Jesus did.

The night before his crucifixion, Jesus knew what was coming. The mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual torture he was about to go through was more than any human has ever borne.

I have always been struck by Jesus’ words in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In Matthew 26:36-45, we read that Jesus prayed three times to his Father to spare him the crucifixion.  Luke tells us he sweat drops of blood – he was in agony of soul.

But he surrendered his will to God.  He said: “Yet not as I will, but as you want.”

He trusted that the Father’s plan was the right one – for him and for all people always.  He knew that God’s plan was good.

In our minds, we believers accept that God’s plans are good.  But when we go through trials, it is easy to forget that truth.

How can it be good that I am suffering, we cry out.  How can God allow this?

That is the difficult thing we all wrestle with.

In her book Adventures in Prayer, Catherine Marshall says she spent six months bed-ridden with a severe lung infection which left specialists baffled.   She had prayed for healing with all the faith she had.

Finally, in tears, she said: “I’m tired of asking.  I’m beaten, finished.  You decide what you want for me.”

The presence of God filled her room and she experienced Christ as she never had before.  From that moment, her recovery began.

Of course, surrender doesn’t always end that way.

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul tells us that he asked God three times to remove “a thorn in the flesh” from his life.  Paul, the instrument of healing for so many people, was not healed.

Yet, he heard from God words that have helped many people over the years: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

In our weakness, we are driven to God.  We discover that we are ultimately helpless and we are entirely in God’s loving hands.

There is nothing better than that.

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