Jesus sets a wonderful example for us in Luke 22:39-45.
Jesus is about to be tortured, beaten, scourged, humiliated, spat on, and crucified. He knows this. And worst yet, the wrath of God is about to be poured out on Him. Could you imagine the weight of knowing that? He knows He is about to be arrested and it is all about to begin. Jesus finds Himself with all of these worries overwhelming Him. And this is what He does.
1) When you're troubled, turn to your Heavenly Father.
Its funny that of all of the examples I gave above, my less than 2 month old daughter crying out for daddy was the closest to being right. When you are troubled, frightened, lonely, and life is rough, don't turn to a blanket, bust up a wall, pretend everything is alright, or solely turn to another person. Follow Jesus' example. Turn to your Heavenly Father. Bring your pain and hurt and worries to God. Be honest about your feelings and fears. You don't have to pretend to be strong and holy. Jesus came to the Father shaking and bleeding from agony. Bring your troubles to God.
2) Pray regularly.
Prayer is an incredibly powerful thing because it is how we express our intimate relationship of trust with God our Father. When you are in a tough spot in life, the best people to turn to are the ones you have a strong relationship with. Its the people that you spend the most quality, relationship-building time with that can be the best support to you. Just like any relationship, our relationship with God gets stronger the more time we spend with Him. This passage in Luke tells us that it was Jesus' custom or His regular habit to spend time with God praying in the garden. Make sure you have a regular and consistent prayer time with God when life is good so that you can reap the benefits of that strong relationship when life is hard.
3) Partners in Prayer
Don't go through the worst times alone. Jesus brought the disciples with him and specifically brought his three closest friends (Peter, James, and John) to pray with Him. Matthew's gospel tells us that Jesus asked them to pray for Him during this time (Matt 26:38). Jesus was facing the most terrible part of His life and He didn't face it alone. He included His friends. He shared how He was feeling. He asked for their help. Sadly, the disciples prayed for Jesus a bit, but fell asleep when He needed them. Sometimes, people will let you down and that's why you need to turn to your Heavenly Father first. But don't let that excuse keep you from opening up to others. Follow Jesus' example and share your troubles with others and invite them to pray with and for you.
4) Be humble and trust God.
When Jesus prayed in the garden, He knelt down as a sign of submission to God. In incredible agony over the torture, shame, death, and wrath that awaited Him, Jesus does something incredible. He begs God to change the plan. Jesus knew that dying on the cross was the central part of His mission on earth. Yet when the time comes, He is terrified and rightly so. He asks God to please find some other way to pay for our sins and accomplish this mission. Yet, in the end, Jesus submits. Father, not my will, but yours be done. Father, I'm scared. Father, I don't want this to happen. Father, please do something, save me and change this! Father, I don't want to endure this. But Father, I'm willing to do whatever you say is best. Have your way.
When you go through difficult times, it is normal and even good to pray to God and ask that He would change your circumstances, fix your problems, and make life happy again. But don't let that be all you pray. Remember that prayer is not about you getting what you want. Its talking to your Heavenly Father. Sometimes your Father is going to ask you to endure hard times and do hard things for the greater good. When you pray, be sure to submit to whatever God desires. Make sure you put His will above your own desires. And, please, ask Him to help you trust Him and help you submit to Him if you need it! Pray that whatever lessons God is trying to teach you and others through this difficult time or whatever good He is trying to bring out of it would come to pass.
Life gets hard for us all. . . sometimes brutally so. It may be family trouble, loneliness at school, financial problems, broken relationships, or even something like cancer. When times are hard, turn to your Heavenly Father. Be real and open with Him about your pain, fears, worries, and concerns. Make prayer a regular part of your life so you have a strong relationship to turn to when life gets hard. Get close friends in the know and have them praying for you. And surrender the situation to God. Trust that His plan is best and live well for Him, even if He calls you to go through the storm and not around it.
- Are you honest with God in prayer when times are hard? Do you pretend to be alright with Him?
- Do you turn to God first when problems and pain come your way? Second? Third? Tenth? Last?
- Do you pray daily and consistently? Do you only pray when things are hard?
- Do you invite others to pray with you and share your problems with them?
- Who could and should you be praying for that is going through a rough time? How else can you be a help to them?
- Do you get mad at God when you pray and He doesn't give you what you want? Or do you submit to His decision and try to honor Him in the hard times?