Plead Until the Peace Comes

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:19

Some days, the uncertainty of life is daunting. And sometimes, the certainty of life is just as bad – inevitable break-ups, illnesses, conflict and stress. We may see what’s coming and the anticipation is more than we can bear.

Anxiety is a tough emotion to crack. Once those stomach butterflies take flight, it’s difficult to settle them down. No hand towel sufficiently dries our palms. Our lungs simply can’t get enough air in. Do you know the feeling? I do. And I think Jesus did as well.

In Mark 14, we find Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, a place He often retreated to for prayer. This time, He brought Peter, James, and John with Him. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He says to them. (v. 34) The original Greek word used to describe the state of His soul is perilupos, which means greatly grieved, being sorrowful “all-around,” i.e. engulfed in sorrow.

Think of the numerous words we use to define sorrow – sad, unhappy, brokenhearted, mournful, grief-stricken, remorse, poignance, bereavement, anguish. Jesus Himself, being fully God and fully man, experienced an overwhelming sense of these emotions. I imagine Him resisting the urge to vomit, His stomach turning in knots, head spinning, palms sweaty. Negative emotions take a physical toll on our bodies and it did the same for Jesus. He needed reprieve.

So He went to His Father. Going a little farther, He fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from Him. “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” (v. 35-36)

Jesus pleaded with God for a different plan. We do the same thing, don’t we? When anxiety is deep within us, we want it to go away. We want God to change the circumstances causing our heartache. Yet, as David mentions in Psalm 94, it’s not the work God does that brings joy, but rather the consolation He extends. God didn’t take the cup from Jesus because the very thing Jesus wanted to avoid was what fulfilled God’s plan – salvation for all. Perhaps the very thing we want God to change is what He will use to fulfill His plan in us as well.

But it’s ok to plead with God until the peace comes, because it will. He will comfort us in our time of need. (2 Corinthians 1:3) He will hear us when we cry out to Him. (Psalm 18:6, 116:1) He will give us the strength to courageously face our greatest fears. After Jesus met with God, He was at peace with the plan. God had provided the comfort He needed to boldly walk to His death, with humility and compassion.

So the next time you’re anxious or overwhelmed by sorrow, plead with God through, praise and prayer, until the peace comes.

Life’s Unexpected Turns

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
Proverbs 19:21

Some days just simply don’t go as planned. They may start off well, but then, without warning, turn sideways, never to be fully recovered. This was one of those days.

After a couple of busy weeks, I finally had a day to complete all the grunt work I’d been putting off – vacuuming, mopping, and laundry. Mounds of laundry.

But first, the gym. I knew that if I didn’t exercise first it wouldn’t happen. Once I completed my workout, mentally checking off the first “To-Do List” item, I headed home in my car.

As I pulled out into the street, a loud rumble caught my attention. Something didn’t feel right either. A sinking feeling came over me… could I have a flat tire?

Sure enough, I did. In that moment of realization, I knew the day would unfold much differently than I had originally planned. Maybe you can relate. Unexpected traffic causes a missed appointment. An infant’s blowout requires a trip home to change. A long-anticipated vacation is dashed by a significant life event. We’ve all been surprised from time to time, either by little hang-ups or devastating loss.

What can be done when life suddenly turns sideways? That day with the flat tire, I wanted to sit on the curb and cry. I wanted to focus on the disappointment of my well-intentioned day and sulk. I wanted to have a pity party. But Proverbs 19:21 came to mind, which says, many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. The verse gave me hope that maybe God had a purpose hidden in my messed-up plans.

The next four hours were spent replacing the flat tire with a spare, watching the spare go flat, receiving a tow to the tire shop, and buying four new tires. My time, energy, and finances were emptied that day. And if that was all I chose to focus on, I would have missed the ways God was encouraging me to trust Him. He gave me the ability to change the tire, something I had never done before. He gave me the determination to not give up when the spare went flat. And He blessed me with the opportunity to have new tires placed on my vehicle, an overdue necessity.

God’s purpose was going to prevail that day whether I liked it or not. Initially, I felt anxious, agitated, and angry over my circumstances. But with the Lord’s help, my heart changed. His protection and provision led to assurance He was in control, confidence He had a plan, and comfort in knowing He was with me each step of the way. And that was His true purpose – His blessing in disguise.

Lord, thank you for showing me that even when I make plans, I must allow them to unfold under your purpose. Teach me to honor You with how I manage the events of my day.