By John Piper, Future Grace, pages 307-8; posted July 9, 2017 at http://www.desiringgod.org
Matthew 26:36-39 — 36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
There were several tactics in Jesus’ strategic battle against despondency.
- He chose some close friends to be with him. “Taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (v. 37).
- He opened his soul to them. He said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (v. 38).
- He asked for their intercession and partnership in the battle. “Remain here, and watch with me” (v. 38).
- He poured out his heart to his Father in prayer. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (v. 39).
- He rested his soul in the sovereign wisdom of God. “Yet not as I will, but as you will” (v. 39).
- He fixed his eye on the glorious future grace that awaited him on the other side of the cross. “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
When something drops into your life that seems to threaten your future, remember this: The first shock waves of the bomb are not sin. The real danger is yielding to them; in giving in; in putting up no spiritual fight. And the root of that surrender is unbelief — a failure to fight for faith in God’s future grace; a failure to cherish all that God promises to be for us in Jesus.
Jesus shows us another way. Not painless, and not passive. Follow him. Find your trusted spiritual friends. Open your soul to them. Ask them to watch with you and pray. Pour out your soul to the Father. Rest in the sovereign wisdom of God. And fix your eyes on the joy set before you in the precious and magnificent promises of God.
II Corinthians 4:16-18 — So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
From PSALM 88:
Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry.
I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death…
I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave,…
who are cut off from your care.
You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves...
I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you.
Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you?
Is your love declared in the grave,… Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?…
From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
I have borne your terrors and am in despair…
You have taken from me friend and neighbor,
and the darkness is my closest friend.
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths…
Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead;
you spared me from going down to the pit.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.”
Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm;
but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:
“What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit?
Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent.
Lord my God, I will praise you forever.