Sunday, September 25, 2016

Ambushed by life

41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Lk 22:41-44).

This is a famous passage. Theologians wrestle with this passage. Many Christian readers find it disturbing. 

I think it's a striking example of how fully the Incarnate Son entered into the human condition. It's not uncommon for believers and unbelievers alike to feel at one time or another that we've been ambushed by life. In some cases we can see it coming, but there's no U-turn. 

Now Jesus might seem to have an unfair advantage. Given his omnipotence, surely can he press the eject button whenever he gets into a tight situation. So he's never cornered by life–or is he?

Here we see him panicking at the prospect of the impending ordeal that confronts him. He must fulfill his destiny. He was born for this. There's something almost fatalistic about it. 

Like you and me, Jesus finds himself trapped by life. He is facing into a nightmare for which there's no escape. He wants to back out, but he can't. Sound familiar? Have you been there before? 


  1. I can't help but be reminded of Nabeel Qureshi. He's in the prime of his life with a wife and a young child and then gets the diagnosis of stomach cancer (with a 4% chance of living past 5 years). In one of Nabeel's vlogs he mentions how his former associate (the well known) Ravi Zacharias was recently healed of a case of back pain that lasted nearly 27 years.

    Here's a link to Ravi Zacharias' testimony of his healing. He speaks of it immediately at the beginning of the mp3 (which is part 3 of a 3 part message).

    In such times of desperation all we can do is:

    1. trust in the Lord,

    2. prepare for the worst as best we can, and then

    3. do our best to hope for (even believe for) the best outcome (though submitted to His sovereign will which may go contrary to our expectations),

    4. realize our ultimate hope is in the afterlife when the Lord will bestow upon us His ultimate best for us.

    It's so easy to lose hope. That may be the #1 strategic goal the enemy has for believers 1. to steal their joy, 2. minimize their ability in glorifying God and blessing others. So sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the rich Biblical teaching in hymns like Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Especially when this particular hymn says, "PONDER ANEW What the ALMIGHTY can do, if with His love He befriend thee." Often we set limitations on what God may still do in our lives based on His past providence.

    I've watched all three of Nabeel's ongoing vlogs and so far he seems to have the right attitude going into this trying time in his family's life. He's entering it with hope and faith balanced with a sober acknowledgement of the realities of the situation. Acknowledging both God's goodness and power to save, as well as His sovereignty.

    1. I wrote: "Often we set limitations on what God may still do in our lives based on His past providence."

      By limits, I mean two things. 1. Limits in our own minds of what God can/may do. 2. "Limiting God" by "depriving" God of opportunities to work miracles on account of our unbelief. Of course, God is ultimately sovereign over our degrees of doubt and faith, but since God ordains both ends and means, our doubts can sometimes "hinder" God's general blessings flowing into our lives. It wasn't to no purpose that the Lord often said, people received their blessing according to their faith or that a miracle wasn't performed because of unbelief. Yes, God would be sovereign in our not having received such and such blessings if we in fact don't receive them, but that's not an excuse to not strive to appropriate them by faith. We are duty bound to believe great things from a great God, even if He has secretly decreed unconditionally that some things won't come to pass.

      Except for his overly critical attitude toward those who haven't yet arrived at his conclusions, I'm in substantial agreement with Vincent Cheung's views in his blogpost "Faith Override".

    2. As William Carey is purported to have said, "Expect Great Things From God, Attempt Great Things For God".