In Gethsemane, the cup Jesus asks God to remove isn’t mere physical suffering. Jesus is anguished over suffering that’s infinitely deeper. He is facing the terrifying fury of God’s wrath over our sin. And he’s facing that wrath alone, with no comfort from above. Jesus knows God can change this horrifying situation. So he asks. He wants God to remove the very suffering he was sent to bear, the suffering he willingly came for, the suffering that would secure salvation for his people. Jesus wasn’t coerced onto the cross. He laid down his life of his own accord (John 10:18). But now Jesus is asking if there is another way—any other way—for God to accomplish his purposes.
So often I filter my requests. Should I ask God to relieve my suffering when I know he can use it? Is it okay to ask for healing, or is that presumptuous? Should I not ask for anything and just accept what I’ve been given? That posture seems more holy.
Yet Jesus asks God to remove the cup. If Jesus can ask, I can, too. It’s appropriate to ask God to remove my suffering, change my situation, keep me from further pain. He longs to give me good gifts. I’ve begged God to heal friends, save family members, and give clarity, and he has answered yes. But I’ve also pleaded with God to save my dying son, heal my escalating disease, and bring back my husband, and he said no. So even though I don’t know how he will answer, my Father still bids me to petition him earnestly for the things I desire.
Vaneetha Rendall Risner is the author of The Scars That Have Shaped Me and is a regular contributor to DesiringGod.org. Excerpted from The Scars That Have Shaped Me, © Vaneetha Rendall Risner 2016, used by permission.
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