John 12:23-33 – Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Until I saw The Passion of the Christ, I didn’t realize how much I had sugar-coated the physical, spiritual, and emotional pain that Jesus endured. Can you imagine knowing throughout your life that your sole (or make that soul) purpose is to die so that others might live? Not a peaceful die-in-your-sleep death, but rather a be-nailed-to-a-cross death. I can’t, and thankfully I don’t have to; God assigned that task to Jesus.
Even as a young boy, Jesus was “about his father’s work.” He knew he had a purpose, and he was willing to fulfill it. He wanted his Father to be glorified more than he wanted to be spared from the pain and torture that was in his near future.
Unlike Jesus, I often pray to be spared of hardship. To live a pain-free existence. To not be called upon to confront others. To stay in my comfort zone. But when God, in His mercy, answers my selfish prayers, I forget. I act like nothing much has happened, and I seldom grow from the experience. If anything, my pride enlarges because I “controlled” my destiny. This brings no glory to God.
Yet, the times when I am not relieved of my burden, something different happens. I call on God for His help and His strength more often. I recognize that I can’t do it on my own. I stay in relationship with Him, talking to Him incessantly as I share my needs and thank Him for His help. And should anyone think that I survived on my own, I’m more likely to point out that all the glory goes to God.
I don’t want the tough times. But my heart desires to glorify God, not myself. So, I must trust that God’s ways are better than my own. And when I doubt, I can look at Jesus’ example. Praise God, I serve a Father who gave His own Son that I might have an eternal relationship with Him.
Father God, thank You for walking beside me during tough times. Help me to put your glory ahead of my desire for a pain-free life. Amen.