My girlfriend and I were talking one night about how people always pray for the easy way out. How anytime they endure any form of suffering, mild or severe, they complain how could God ever do that to them and instantly start praying for Him to take the pain away (easy to say when life is pretty comfortable). My pride blinded the fact that I was talking about myself.
Not even a few days later I was crying out to God to take my pain away, not giving a thought to what His will was for me. I just instantly wanted to go back to my easy life where I’m never pushed, I’m not growing and I’m not letting God prune me. Without even realizing how hypocritical I was, I started praying for the easy way out.
This idea of praying for the easy way out or praying for safety is something that I have been wrestling with for years. I wrote a blog a year ago about why I don’t pray for safety and how it feels too contradictory to what I read in Scripture when people were being beheaded, sawed in two or persecuted for proclaiming their faith in Jesus.
But, as Jesus was preparing to be crucified, he went and prayed to God asking if there was another way out.
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”……………….Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. -Matthew 26:39, 42-44 (NLT)
It’d be easy to say, “Well, Jesus prayed for the easy way out!” But each time, He doesn’t stop there. He is honest about his grief and how he obviously doesn’t want to be hung on a cross. But he is so willing to do his Father’s will rather than his own.
Whenever we endure hardship, we are so quick to pray for the easy way out. Christians love to pray for God’s will when that means something like which college to choose, which safe and secure job to take, or where to live. But what about when God’s will isn’t safe, comfortable and secure? Or do we only pray for God’s will when either option is something we’d be happy and comfortable in? Jesus knew that he was going to be tortured and killed and he still prayed for God’s will over his own.
Recently I prayed for God to grow me up and prepare me to be the man He is calling me to be in ministry, in relationships, and just in life in general. But then the next day when He answered my prayer, I got mad because it included pain and suffering. I shouldn’t have been surprised when it came, but I was. I guess I didn’t remember that pruning usually doesn’t feel good at the time.
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. – Hebrews 12:11
We can have hope in our suffering, that even though it’s painful at the time, God is preparing us and building endurance in us that we may share in his holiness. If we didn’t have Jesus or eternal life, we couldn’t have any joy or hope in our suffering. We would just be suffering for the sake of suffering. But since God made a way for us we can rejoice during suffering and know that God is pruning us to become more and more like Him. If God always gave us the easy way out, would we ever really need to depend on Him?
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. – 1 Peter 4:13
What about you? Do you tend to pray for your own will rather than God’s will? I think anytime we start complaining or become hopeless during suffering, it is because we are taking our eyes off of Jesus and the hope that we have. So lets fix our eyes on Him, pray for His will over our own and run the race set out before us.