Doing God’s will can sometimes be very difficult, and you will find yourself not wanting to do it. What you want and what God wants will be two different things. This could mean you both have the goal in mind, but God’s way of getting it done and your way of getting it done oppose each other. When you discover that doing God’s will in this matter will cost you and hurt you, you are in what is called a Gethsemane moment.
Gethsemane Moment Defined
Today, we are going to continue our examination of your Gethsemane moment. A Gethsemane moment is a time when you are tempted to avoid doing what God wants you to do because you know that doing it will cost you dearly and hurt you deeply. You are not going to want to do it, but you know God wants you to do it. You know it’s the right thing to do, but it will come at great sacrifice on your part. Your Gethsemane involves a battle between your willing spirit to do what is right and your weaknesses to do what is easy.
Let me set the stage. Jesus took His disciples to an olive grove called Gethsemane. Most of His disciples were told to wait at the entrance of Gethsemane. However, Jesus took three of them (Peter, James, and John) deeper into the grove. Jesus becomes deeply troubled and distressed. He told the three that His soul was “crushed with grief to the point of death.” He then says, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” Then Jesus walks about 50 feet away and fell to the ground. “He prayed that if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by.” After about an hour, Jesus returns to the disciples and finds them sleeping. Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak” (see Mark 14:32-38). We have already looked at all that in detail. This brings us to verse 39.
Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. 41 When he returned to them the third time, he said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But no—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!” (Mark 14:39-42, NLT)
The principles we are going to be learning are truths that help you to understand your Gethsemane moment. Those times when you know God’s will, but you don’t want to do it. There are five biblical principles you need to be aware of in regards to your Gethsemane. We have already looked at one, let’s review and then take a good look at another one.
You will experience denial
The first lesson: you will experience denial. In your Gethsemane moment, your prayer of faith will be answered with a no. In verses 38-40, we see Jesus praying the same prayer three times. Perfect Jesus is praying in perfect faith with a perfect prayer with a perfect relationship with the Heavenly Father. Jesus is asking the Heavenly Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him that He is about to face. The Heavenly Father tells Jesus no.
One of the things we learn from this is that praying in faith is not about getting what you want, but wanting what God wants. When you pray in faith, you should be moved to obey in faith. We looked at this in detail last time. Your prayer of faith will sometimes be answered with a “no.”
You will experience loneliness
A second observation about your Gethsemane moment: you will experience loneliness. When you are in your Gethsemane you will feel alone. The reality is, you will not be alone, but you will feel alone. You may feel like no one cares or understands.
Jesus tells His closest friends (Peter, James, and John) to watch and pray, while He goes off about 50 feet from them and prays in agony, in grief, and His prayer is so intense He sweats great drops of blood. This goes on for about an hour. Then in verse 40 we are told, When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. Jesus goes and prays a third time and returns and finds them sleeping again.
In your Gethsemane moment, you will be going through something that is intense, agonizing, and fills you with grief. However, those closest to you will not recognize it as such. They may know something is going on with you, but they will not know the depth of what is occurring in your life.
For Jesus, his disciples couldn’t stay awake to watch and pray while Jesus was wrestling with His Heavenly Father’s will versus His own will.
- For you, it may be that your Christian friends or church doesn’t pray for you the way you thought they should have.
- Your friends didn’t check in on you to see how you were doing, but yet you checked in on them, just like Jesus did.
- The people who you thought would be there were not. The people you thought would support you didn’t. You thought they would be more interested in your pain and grief, but they weren’t. It’s like when you needed them, they went to sleep.
- By the way, when you are in a Gethsemane moment it does not give you an excuse to stop caring for others. Jesus was grieving for what He was about to endure, but at the same time He was still concerned about His disciples. Even though you may feel alone or abandoned and people are not there for you, does not mean you can’t be there for them.
When you are going through your Gethsemane moment, you will feel alone. You might even feel abandoned. You have prayed in faith and God has told you no and now your friends and family and church seem to be sleeping on duty while you are going through one of the worse and most difficult moments of your life. You are going through a major illness, a separation, a divorce, a death, abusive situation or something heartbreaking with your children. It’s your Gethsemane moment. You have this suffering in front of you and to do it God’s way is going to cost you dearly and hurt you deeply.
The temptation in this moment is to begin thinking and believing that God and the people in your life don’t care, nor do they really love you. You start thinking things like, “If they cared they would have prayed more, visited more, called more, or supported me more. They would have listened to me, talked to me, and been there more often.” During your Gethsemane moment, you are going to feel alone and abandoned by those who you think should have been there for you. Instead of finding them supportive, you will find your Peter, James, and John asleep.
It will appear people do not care about you
Instead of getting angry at them, let’s follow Jesus on this. Jesus has already told the disciples their “spirit is willing” but their “body is weak” (v.38). Jesus is acknowledging that in their heart they do care, and they want to care. He knows they love Him and are committed to Him. They want to watch and pray with Jesus, but they have limitations because of their body and their body is screaming “I need to sleep.” So they go to sleep. Their going to sleep was not an indication they didn’t care, it was a result of their weakness.
Everyone around you has weaknesses.
- They have physical weaknesses: they need sleep, they get sick, they get tired, etc.
- They have emotional weaknesses: they get depressed, angry, worried, anxious, and fearful.
- They have spiritual weaknesses: they don’t love God enough, people enough, and themselves enough. They still struggle with the sin and selfishness in their own life.
- They have mental weaknesses: they remember things they should forget, the forget things they should remember, get confused, distracted, and their mind can deceive themselves. They may have an inner critic telling them they can’t help, they are no good, and others don’t want to hear from them.
All these weaknesses are included in Jesus’ statement, “the body is weak.” Now listen carefully, Jesus does not hold their weaknesses against them. Jesus’ statement tells us the people in your life can genuinely want to help (the spirit is willing), but at the same time not help (the body is weak). They do love you and they want to express that love to you, but because of their weaknesses they don’t do it. This doesn’t mean that there are people who do not care, because there are people who don’t care. However, there are those who have demonstrated their commitment to you and love for you over the time you have known them. In your Gethsemane moment they don’t call, they don’t pray, they don’t ask how you are doing or how can they help, and they are not ignoring you or your pain because they don’t care, but because of their own weaknesses. That’s what is happening with Jesus and the disciples, and it will happen with you and others.
So, Jesus says to the disciples, “Couldn’t you watch with me for even one hour?” (v. 38). Jesus confronts Peter and the other two about not watching and praying with Him and Mark tells us they didn’t know what to say. When you are going through your Gethsemane you may confront those in your life and ask, “Where were you? Why didn’t you call? Why didn’t you come by? Why didn’t help? I needed you, but you weren’t there for me.” It is okay to have those conversations. It is good for you and good for them. If you have these conversations with them, more than likely, they will not know what to say, like the disciples.
Trusting God when all you have is Him
Here is where it gets tough. Every believer will have that moment, that Gethsemane moment, when everything seems like it has been stripped away and those closest to you aren’t there to help or can’t help and all you have is you and God and God has told you no. Your people are not there for you and your God has told you no.
At that moment, will you choose to still love God and love others even though you feel all alone? Will you trust God when everything seems to be falling apart. You have prayed in faith asking God to remove this pain and this suffering and He has said no. Do you trust Him? Do you still see your Heavenly Father as a loving, faithful, gracious, kind, sovereign, and merciful?
In your Gethsemane moment those closest to you will not be able to help you because of their own weaknesses and struggles. Will you still choose to love them even if you don’t feel loved by them?
How you respond in your Gethsemane moment will determine if you say, “God, not my will, but your will be done.”
In your Gethsemane, those times when your will and God’s will oppose each other, you will experience denial. God will tell you no, it must be done His way. You will experience loneliness, it will appear those closest to you don’t care.
This is part of you taking up your cross and following Him. This is what it feels like to die to self. However, the result of your obedience during your Gethsemane moment is that you will be directly in the will of God and many people will be blessed by God because of your sacrifice. Following Jesus involves this path.
Embrace what God is teaching you during your Gethsemane moment. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it. The devil is going to try to convince you that God does not care nor do the people in your life.
- Take every thought captive and remind yourself that God does love you, He made you, has a plan and purpose for your life, and the best is yet to come.
- And remind yourself that the people in your life have demonstrated their love and concern for you over the years. Remind yourself you are loved by them, but they are unable to express that love due to their own weaknesses.
Ultimately, God uses your Gethsemane moment to deepen you, sharpen you, refine you, and to make you more like Jesus and that’s what you ultimately want.