The Garden of Gethsemane is made up of a grove of olive trees found at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The word “gethsemane” means “oil press,” and this garden likely served as the location of an ancient olive press, a device used to squeeze the oil out of olives. But another kind of pressing took place on the night before Jesus died. It was, perhaps, His most difficult trial on earth. To find out what happened that night, and how He faced it, take a look at this short video below. Then read on to find out how God can give you the strength to pass the trials you face as well.
So what happened at the Garden of Gethsemane? This is where Jesus went to pray the night He was betrayed.
If you remember the story, the trial He faced that night was so difficult that He told His disciples He was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mark 14:34a).
When Jesus tried to get His disciples to stay awake with Him during the night, they couldn’t do it. This was a trial He was going to have to face without them.
But He didn’t have to face it alone. He faced it together with God His Father in prayer. The words Jesus prayed that night are an encouragement to me, as they have been to people for thousands of years, people who have faced trials of many kinds. Jesus said:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 25:42).
You may have heard these words so many times that they’ve lost their freshness, but I’d like to remind you today of the power contained within them. They are words that can bring you peace and restore life to your soul once again no matter what kind of situation you might be facing.
First, know that when you face a trial of any kind, you’re not facing it alone. When you get to that point where you feel so alone that even your closest friends seem unable to walk with you through it any further, know that God is still there to walk through it with you.
When Jesus prayed that night, He went to His Father not just once or twice, but three times. Before each time of prayer, He asked His disciples to stay awake and keep watch for Him. But the fact that they couldn’t do it didn’t mean that His friends didn’t love Him, or that they didn’t want to help Him. They wanted to do whatever He asked, but in the end they simply couldn’t do it. Jesus knew their hearts were still with Him nonetheless, and He said:
“The spirit is willing, but the body is weak”
But even though Jesus’ disciples fell asleep, God never did. The Bible says that God never slumbers nor sleeps (see Psalm 121:4). Each time Jesus found the disciples sleeping, He returned to God in prayer.
Second, know that it’s not unspiritual to plead with God for that which you think is best. Three times, Jesus said:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me.”
Jesus didn’t want to face what lay ahead of Him. He pleaded with God to take it away, to change His course, or to show Him another path. It wasn’t that Jesus wanted to disobey His Father’s will, but neither did He hide the fact that He’d rather do it another way if possible!
The anguish that Jesus faced that night was intense, so intense that Luke says:
“His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Luke 22:44).
The pressure of it all, the squeezing that He felt must have been nearly unbearable. The pain and twisting he felt may have been mirrored in the gnarled and twisted olive trees found in the Garden of Gethsemane itself, some of which are over 1,000 years old—and some could have even been alive at the time of Christ, as olives tree can, remarkably, live several thousand years.
Jesus knew that the pain ahead could be severe, and He didn’t hesitate to pray that His Father would make another way. If it wasn’t “unspiritual” for Jesus to pray this way, then I wouldn’t think it would be unspiritual for you to ask for it either.
But third, know that whatever happens in the end, you can trust God to work all things for good, when you truly commit your will to His. Madame Guyon was a Christian who suffered much during her lifetime in France in the 1700’s. Yet through it all she was able to find the peace of God by surrendering her will to God’s. She wrote:
“All your concerns go into the hand of God. You forget yourself, and from that moment on you think only of Him. By continuing to do this over a long period of time, your heart will remain unattached; your heart will be free and at peace! How do you practice abandonment? You practice it daily, hourly and by the moment. Abandonment is practiced by continually losing your own will in the will of God—by plunging your will into the depths of His will, there to be lost forever!” (Madame Guyon, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ).
While it is important to remember that God has given us free will—the will or desire do that which we want—it’s also important to remember that God has a will, too. While God wants to give you the desires of your heart, He also has desires on His heart, desires which often go way beyond ours!
I am a firm believer that God wants to bless you, to prosper you, and to make you healthy and wealthy and wise. The Scriptures are full of stories of how God has come through for His people, blessing them with healing and prosperity, both physically and spiritually, and pouring out His wisdom upon them. But I am also a firm believer that God’s blessings can often exceed our own, but sometimes we can only see them as blessings when we look at them through eyes of faith.
I once heard a long-time and well-respected Christian leader say that when he looked back on his life, it turned out that the times he thought were his mountaintop turned out to be the valleys, and the times he thought he was going through the valleys turned out to be the mountaintops. God has a way of bringing good from every situation, when we trust Him to do His will in all things.
Know that God wants to bless you, that He wants to bless others through you, and that you can trust Him in all things, at all times, to work His will, in His ways. Know that when He calls you to face your own Garden of Gethsemane, you won’t face it alone. You’ll be in good company, the likes of which includes Jesus Christ Himself, the One who trusted His Father inherently and said with His whole heart:
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”
I pray that you’ll be able to do the same.
Father, thank You for never leaving us alone, thank You for giving us our own free will, and thank You for giving us the confidence that Your will always is always better than our own. Help us to come to You with complete abandonment so that we can experience the fullness of Your peace, Your joy, and Your life that will come to us when we do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.