March 3, 2004

A Difficult Lesson

On a church sign near my house, they have posted the following, “Who crucified Jesus? God did.” I am sure they posted this in response to the recent controversy surrounding the movie The Passion of the Christ. I saw the movie myself last week. I have to say I was awestruck by the image of Christ carrying out God’s will with such dedication…such passion. As visual creatures, watching Christ die a horrendous death for us, seeing him love us so immensely, and living the words “Thy will be done,” has the potential to have a huge impact on anyone who views the film. It did me.

When things are going great in our life, it is easy to feel confident that you are doing God’s will. In fact for some of us, that is our compass. When we have harmony, peace, and success, we feel as though we are following the path that God chose for us. And there is nothing wrong with this rationale really. Except that we must also accept that sometimes God’s will is not at all aligned with our will and will not always yield harmony, peace, and success. While there is much to celebrate in this world, we all suffer. When Jesus was being beaten, ridiculed, and crucified, do you think there was an overall feeling of harmony, peace, and success in his life or in the lives of his disciples? Because they were faithful to God, harmony, peace, success, and the absolute Glory of God was revealed upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is continuing to be revealed today. Sometimes God will allows us to experience the worse nightmares we could imagine, a virtual hell, so that we can learn and grow stronger from the experience or because it ultimately leads to a greater good. This is difficult to imagine, even harder to live through and accept.

Some of you may remember that I was hospitalized last October a month or so before Bennett died. I was in an extreme state of anxiety that led to irrational thought, behaviors that were out of the norm (hugging everyone and telling them I loved them, not eating, not sleeping), and in an extreme state of confusion.

One of the things that happened to me in the hospital was really the key to my learning to accept God’s will. I did not want to be in the hospital. In my mind, I remember thinking that there was a puzzle to be solved or a game to be won that would earn my freedom from imprisonment. I just had to be smart enough, observant enough, and maybe even strong enough. And I had convinced myself that God did not want me in this hell either. I remember repeating the words “I will to will God’s will” over and over. I tried escaping several times through locked doors. Whenever the nurses would give me shots (because I refused to take medication), I would resist, and I believed that God would rescue me. At one point, I was at the nurse’s station repeating my line “I will to will God’s will” and had been for quite a long time. Finally, an irritated cleaning lady said, “That’s great, but could you will your will in your room.” I was stunned to silence. Suddenly, I realized that it was my will that did not want to be in the hospital. It was my will that did not want to take medicine. It was my will I was trying to exert rather than submitting to God’s will. I laughed at the absurdity of my actions and the profoundness of the cleaning lady’s words. And I silently walked down the hall to my room. I solved the puzzle, and it had nothing to do with intelligence or strength.

Through prayer and encounters with some extraordinary people (including the irritated cleaning lady), I found my way back to sanity and God quickly. From this experience, I learned that I could trust God through anything and everything. I believe that God created a situation for me to learn to trust His will, and it was the perfect preparation for what was to come. The night before Bennett died, my prayer was very different from the prayer I prayed many months earlier in words and also intent. “God, I trust you.” And I meant it for the first time in my life. It was not an easy lesson to learn, but what a blessing it is to accept that you cannot control the fate of the world or even your life completely. That is a job only our loving, awesome, and gracious God is qualified for and willing to take.


“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
- Luke 22:42

“Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
- Psalm 143:10


“Prayer is not so much formally addressing God with a list of requests as it is acknowledging that our connection to God is absolute, and unending, and urgent.”

-Unknown (taken from the Upper Room: Prayers for Courage)


Great and gracious heavenly Father, I trust you in all matters of my life and this world. You chase away the demons of fear and worry when I completely put my trust in you. Your son, Jesus Christ, was our perfect example of the trust you want us to have in you. He died and suffered a horrendous death only to rise again in Your eternal glory. Hear these words. They come from my heart… I trust you. Amen


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