Luke 22:42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
I went to midnight Mass at Holy Cross for Christmas – a tradition that I hope to keep since being baptized in 2013. I realized that the reenactment of the nativity scene has been replayed so many times, that it is easy for us to forget or miss the significance of it. This year, it hit me during the Homily when the priest mentioned “On His Terms”.
Yes, Jesus came on His terms. Like the people then during His time, we expect the King to come in grand fashion, we expect the Savior to be revered by all, and we expect our God to defeat everything else that goes against us.
But Jesus came on His terms. He came in a manger, not even a room. He came with no special privilege – He had to go through the growing up pains, just like every other human being. He came without crowds cheering or grand fireworks.
As I ponder how our Lord our God came on His own terms, I recall the above verse and realized that we so often want to dictate how we want God to “come on our terms”. Isn’t it true that we often pray to God for healing, for wealth and for everything else that works in our favor? We want God to take away that illness, we want God to give us that promotion, and we want God to help us find the “right” one. But what if God doesn’t want to grant healing but instead let the person die? What if God says you are to suffer financial setback? What if His reply, is that you are never meant to be with someone?
The question for me then is, can I accept God (answering my prayers) on His terms?
It is not easy. It is against our human nature. I mean, how can I be praying to God to let me suffer? Don’t I want God’s blessings and mercy and grace bestowed on me?
Then Luke 22:42 struck me. Jesus’s human nature led him to pray “remove this cup from me” – hence, it is our human nature to want God to grant us blessings instead of sufferings. But Jesus’s prayer must be read in context, for before he asked for removing the cup from Him, he said “Father, if you are wiling”. And yes, not my will but yours be done! Father, if you are willing, if it is in your will, if it is in your grand plan for me to learn to grow holier, for me to be cleansed, for me to be purified, then yes, let me suffer.
It is Faith that can lead us to say “yours be done” instead of “grant me my wishes”. And to have that faith is to first have Trust in our Almighty Living God to, even in our darkest hour, be with us to give us strength to go through it.
It is Faith in God that He will never let us down, never leave us, that brings me to say, yes Lord, if it is in your Will that I suffer, then I accept it with full confidence that You will be with me all the way, that I can fall back on You and lean on You.
It is not easy. My intellect can lead me to reflect and contemplate, but I am sure when it happens, it will still be a struggle.
And it is the same with relationships. I came to realize that when I pray to God to grant me blessings, very often, it stems from my own insecurities. I realize that I must learn not only to accept (God) on His terms, but to empathize and understand why (God) came in the way He did. I have to first identify and isolate what my desires are, look at them squarely and then ask myself, can I deal with them in such a way that instead of asking the other person (or God) to address or take away these concerns, can I put myself in the other person’s shoes and say, hey, can I accept those terms? Can I look beyond and understand the reasons why? Can I die to myself, and learn to love the other person, on his/her terms?
Very often, relationships fail because of unmet expectations. And expectations come from our own insecurities and desires. There is a fine line between being able to “die to myself” and being indifferent. It is not about giving up my own needs or ignoring them. It is, and so I have grown to realize, to say there are times when I have to set aside my needs first so as to accept the person on his/her terms. I used to think that it is important to communicate my expectations and my needs, and very often demand a “closure”. But there are times in life where there can be no closures. Or the “closure” is not important or trivial in comparison to other priorities in life. It is, again, not about bending backwards and not having my own stand, but to be flexible enough to say, hey, I can see things from your perspective, and perhaps my own insecurities should be my own problem to solve, and not expect you to help me with it.
And so it is the same with our relationship with God, isn’t it? If God answers the prayer for the cancer patient to be healed, we call it a miracle, but what if God allows the person to die immediately? Do we blame God? Do we say God has not answered our prayers?
Perhaps, in such instances we have to look at it on His terms. God let it happen the way it happened because He has His own reasons – maybe it is for the living to learn to grief and let go? Maybe it is to end the suffering of the patient? Whatever that reason may be, we can only pray to God for the wisdom to understand His Will, and the strength to accept it.
Almighty Living God, King of Kings, Prince of Peace, our Alpha and Omega, I pray to You to grant me not my wishes, but Your Will be done. I can only ask for Your Grace to let me know in no uncertain terms Your Will, so that it is loud and clear for me to follow. I pray to you to give me that strength to deal with whatever purification You put me through, the faith to accept the outcome on Your terms, and the wisdom to understand those terms. In Jesus’s most holy name, Amen!