Last week I flew to visit a friend in Texas, and I ended up getting into the topic of beliefs with a guy in my row. He shared with me what he believed, and why. I realized quickly that he knew what he was talking about. His beliefs hadn’t been spoon fed to him. He had thought a lot about them. We talked about his desire to please God to get to heaven, and to have his sins atoned for by getting right in the eyes of God. So at the end of the conversation I said Why not Jesus? His answer was eye-opening.
If he was really the son of God, why wouldn’t he have saved himself from death on a cross?
His answer made me sad. Things haven’t changed much since the time when Jesus walked on this earth. Shortly before His death, a crowd responded to Jesus as He predicted His death saying We understood from Scripture that the Messiah would live forever. How can you say that the Son of Man will die?
Jesus wasn’t who people thought He should be, or wanted Him to be. In thinking about it, I have come across that same question and point of view many times in different ways.
If He is the Son is God, and He can do anything, why did my loved one die from cancer, as we all prayed for his healing?
If He is so great why did He let my dad die, as I’m begging Him to let him live?
If He is able, and if I’m so miserable at work, why hasn’t He provided me with the new job that I’ve been praying for?
If He loved me, why won’t He take my anxiety away?
He knows I want to be enough, yet no matter how much I try, I never measure up. And I again am aware of my short comings. If He calls me to be brave, why do I still feel like a failure?
If He is good, why is all of this bad stuff happening?
If He is for me than why did He let me fall into temptation?
If You had been here my brother wouldn’t have died. (that is straight from John 11)
If. When we make these statements that begin with “if”, we are putting conditions on our belief. We want God to be who we expect Him to be. We want Him to fit into our understanding of who we think He is. And we want Him to do what we want, and then we base our faith on the condition of Him answering our every request in the way we want it answered.
But see, He isn’t held in the prison of our unbelief, or confined to the mold of who we think He should be. No.
That isn’t my King.
That isn’t my Jesus.
That isn’t my God.
When Jesus was praying in the garden right before He was arrested, He prayed to His Father if at all possible, take this cup of suffering from me, but never the less let Your will be done.
What cup of suffering do you want taken from you?
When reading this, I asked myself, what is the cup of suffering I want taken from me. More times than not my cup is knowing that I am not enough. And no matter how hard I try, that truth hits over and over. There is never enough of me to go around, and there is not enough time in the day to get everything done. I cannot get words right, I don’t have time for this or that. I am not pretty enough, or well spoken enough. And sometimes my faith isn’t enough because it is shadowed by my fear.
There is a part of me that wished I could ask you this same questions face to face, and then pray with you as you wrestle through it. What cup of suffering do you want taken from you? What is the cup that you have asked Him to take and He has let it stay? Has it shaken your faith? Does it make you question if God is good? And what have you done knowing that He may not take it away?
I am thankful that He has been gracious enough to not take my cup away. I say that because I know with everything in me that if He granted that wish, I wouldn’t be inclined to cling to Him as I do, because I need Him. Everyday.
I need to remember that He is enough not because of anything I do, but because of who He is. And that grace covers my short comings. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
It is time for us to take our eyes off the cup and put them on the cross.
No. Jesus didn’t come to be who we expected Him to be. He came to show us His Father. He didn’t come to grant us our every desire, but to show us that His ways are higher. He didn’t come to display us His mighty power, but His sacrificial love.
I think He would come to so many of us in the middle of our “if” struggles and say, I went to the cross for you, as you were clinging to the prisons I died to free you from. The prison of sin, short comings, and unbelief. I gave up My life so you can turn from what chains you, to say “Never the less Your will be done”. And if you believe in Me, you will have eternal life.
(Side note, Jesus has His own “if” statements! Quite a bit actually!)
There is a cross necklace that I have been wearing for a couple of years now. Sometimes before bed Olivia will play with it. And when she is playing with it, I tell her This means I love you. And it does.
Could Jesus have taken Himself off the cross? Yes. But if He had taken Himself off the cross, we would still be covered by our sin instead of His love.
But the cross wasn’t meant to show His mighty power, but His undying love. And it is a sacrificial love, that did the unexpected, and then again did the unexpected 3 days later.
That is my King.
That is my Jesus.
That is my God.