By Christy McGriff
Strange combination of words I admit. Since agony is extreme physical or mental suffering, how can it be described as beautiful? Odd as it might sound, the absolute truth is there can be beauty in agony. You may be familiar with the account in the bible when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray before he would be crucified on the cross for our sins. He said to a few of his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death..” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus was, no doubt, in mental agony and not long after would experience physical agony as well.
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26: 39) And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44)
We cannot even begin to imagine the degree of anguish and sorrow Jesus felt in those moments as he prayed to his Father. As he cried out in great sorrow, he wasn’t merely asking His Father to release Him from that to which He had been called. He was asking for “this cup” (His crucifixion) to be taken from Him, only if it was His Father’s will. He bore the pain and agony of the cross willingly because it was indeed His Father’s will.
We all have experienced sorrow, but have you ever experienced agony to the point of confessing, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”? I am not suggesting that any of us could ever experience agony and sorrow to the degree that Jesus experienced at Gethsemane. But I can say in all my life experiences, there is one time in my life in which my anguish greatly surpassed all other sorrows I have ever experienced. Can you relate?
Almost 5 years ago, I came to understand desperation to a degree that seemed humanly impossible. Although it was incomprehensible to me how my soul could feel as if it were dying, it was happening. As I knelt down on the floor and cried out to Jesus, the only words that my soul would allow to escape my lips were “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
In my greatest time of sorrow, I wasn’t desperate for a way out. I wasn’t desperate for answers. I was desperate for Jesus. That’s where we must reside – being desperate for Him. You see, He had been preparing me many years for this life changing event, this time of great sorrow. I chose to follow the path he laid out before me and began to restructure and reorganize my life and priorities. Because I had made the drastic changes He asked me to make earlier on, I was well-prepared to go through this agonizing time gracefully and with a peace that would pass all understanding. Because I recognized the object of my desperation was Jesus, I could say, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” It was difficult to say, but I knew it was the only response that wouldn’t put me in bondage to my circumstance.
There are things in this world that will bring us sorrow that we could have never imagined, agony that is so difficult to bear that we feel as though our soul is dying. We ask God why we must endure this and seek to understand the purpose of “this cup.” Although we may ask “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me,” ultimately, we must say, “Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
My sorrow has long passed. I see the beauty that has prevailed, beauty that surpasses the agony which was required to experience it. Just as there was agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, there was beauty on the Cross. May we find comfort in our suffering. May we hold fast to the promise of deliverance – beautiful agony.
About me and the ministry:
Christy’s personal mission statement is “To have a positive impact on others’ lives by honoring God and living with simplicity.” She desires to inspire others to do the same.
Be Still and Live is a ministry focused on uncovering God’s truths for a simple life in the midst of a society that has no tolerance for stillness. This ministry exists to inspire simplicity in the hearts of today’s busy women.
Our passion is to uncover the deep desire to live differently and to offer encouragement on the journey towards stillness, peace and simplicity. We do this by offering a variety of connection opportunities for groups and individuals. To learn more, visit www.bestillandlive.org.