“Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:45-46 (NKJV)
After praying and surrendering, Jesus sees His betrayer coming. He doesn’t try to run away. He doesn’t try to hide. He simply wakes His disciples up and meets His betrayer head on. He went from being crushed with sorrow, to peacefully and calmly saying, “Rise, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” The very tone of His words to His disciples revealed a calmness of spirit, a peace of mind, a relief of the physical and emotional strain that was about to kill Him. God had met His need and had strengthened Him for the work ahead.
One thing that I think is important for us to recognize here is that His circumstances haven’t changed. He is still going to suffer. He is still going to be brutalized and crucified. He is still going to drink the cup of God’s wrath. The cause of His suffering, the cause of sorrow didn’t go away because He prayed and surrendered to the Father. Instead, His attitude about it changed. The book of Hebrews tells us a bit about Jesus and His suffering.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)
The cross still hurt. The cross was still shameful. The cross was still suffering. However there was joy in this because He was accomplishing the Father’s will and would be the reason people were redeemed and spared the horrors of hell.
I don’t want to make you promises here that God isn’t going to keep. I don’t want to go further than the text would allow me to go. Therefore, I cannot promise you that praying and surrendering to the Father will cause the suffering to go away. That promise just isn’t present in Scripture. What I can promise you is that through prayer and surrender God will strengthen you and give you peace despite your suffering.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
The promise here is that prayer, like the prayer of surrender we talked about, leads us to the place where we can experience the peace of God. The word “guard” is a military word that carries with it the idea of our hearts being protected by a military guard to prevent hostile invasion. When we pray and surrender to the Father and trust His love, His wisdom and His power, then His peace becomes like a military guard to keep our hearts from being invaded by all hostile forces that would steal our peace. This type of peace only comes through prayer and surrender to God.
God always strengthens us when we surrender to His will. Why does it work this way?
It is because only God can deliver us through the most severe circumstances and tragedies of life.
Only God can fill our hearts with assurance and peace.
Only God can relieve the suffering and sorrow that comes in Gethsemane.
Every person reading this is a person that has been to Gethsemane or is in Gethsemane. I think visiting Gethsemane is a mandatory part of life. No one is exempt from visiting there. The difference will be in what happens while we are there. For all of us it will be a place of suffering and a place of conflict. It can also be a place of strengthening where you are given peace and a resolve to do God’s will no matter what that will is. It will only be that kind of place when we surrender to the Father’s will.