What to Pray When the Darkness Overwhelms

May 10, 2017

John 12:27-33

27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.

30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

CONSIDER THIS

Today we come to the crux of the Gospel. It’s the literal turning point. It happens in this prayerful declaration.

“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”

The hour has come. The die has been cast. With these words, Jesus crosses the proverbial Rubicon. The Cross, though it be in Jesus’ future, is now behind him—a fait accompli. Note, however, this is not Jesus’ reluctant acceptance of his “fate.”

28 Father, glorify your name!”

It is critical for us to grasp the difference between resignation and surrender. Four words make all the difference.

28 Father, glorify your name!” 

To resign is to turn back, give up, and admit defeat. To surrender means to abandon oneself not to circumstance but to God and to embrace the glorious future of his making. Surrender is not the acceptance of defeat but the declaration of victory, no matter how dark the future may appear.

I’ve always appreciated the serenity prayer yet often felt it carried something of a spirit of resignation. You know the prayer:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Honestly, I often felt it a bit platitudinous. Recently, a friend shared the full version of the prayer with me and now I see it in a whole new light. Here’s the “rest of the story,” if you will.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Far from weak resignation, the full prayer is one of bold surrender. Many who are reading undoubtedly face their own “hour” of unbearable suffering. Don’t turn back. Don’t give up. Allow what may seem a senseless and needless situation to be turned into a cross-bearing crucible. Do no resign yourself to it. Surrender your life to God through it. While what you are facing just now may seem the furthest thing from God’s will, God has a will in the midst of it. Seize the moment to size up this suffering with a bigger picture. For certain, it is a picture we cannot presently understand. We can only see the frame of this it in praying this prayer, 28 Father, glorify your name!”

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who shows us what it looks like to walk through an hour of great darkness with the confidence “that though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the ruler yet.” Come Holy Spirit and grace us even to mouth the words, “Father, glorify your name!” as we surrender to your goodness in all things. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. Do you know someone facing an unthinkable hour at this time? Pray about sharing today’s entry with them.
  2. How do you see the difference between weak resignation and bold surrender? Which is your tendency?
  3. What holds you back from praying a prayer like, “Father, glorify your name!” in untenable circumstances?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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