When the going gets tough ∙∙

When the going gets tough ∙∙

So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. – 1 Thessalonians 5:6

Luke 22:39-40, 45-46

 39 Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives.

 40 There he told them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,

 45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief.

 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not give in to temptation.”

“We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions” (Stephen Covey). “Your direction, not intention, determines your destination” (The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley).

Walt Disney had more than good intentions, he had a clear direction and the will to succeed. Can you imagine a childhood without enjoying the creations of Walt Disney? That could have become a reality if Walt had merely relied on his good intentions. His former newspaper editor disparaged him, claiming he had “no good ideas” and “lacked imagination.” Undeterred, Walt refused to listen to such negativity.

Instead, he persevered and created the enduring cultural icon of Disney that profoundly impacted American society in the 20th century. As Thumper’s mother and father advised in Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

What was Walt Disney’s perspective on failure? Early failure lays the groundwork for future success. He once remarked, “I think it’s important to have a good hard failure when you’re young . . .. Because it makes you kind of aware of what can happen to you. Because of it, I’ve never had any fear in my whole life when we’ve been near collapse and all of that. I’ve never been afraid” (www.lifehack.org).

Even with the best intentions and highest aspirations, we often fail those we care about the most. Sometimes temptations overtake us when we are weak, worn out, and can least resist them. The Lord Jesus Christ knowing this warned His disciples to pray that they should not enter into temptation.

During the final night of Christ’s earthly life, what temptation arose in the garden? It was not a temptation to succumb to a grave moral transgression or sin. Instead, it was the temptation to fall asleep. Given the circumstances and the Lord Jesus Christ’s prediction of impending betrayal and death, one might expect the disciples to remain vigilant and on high alert. They should have been fueled by adrenaline. However, for them, it seemed to be just another uneventful night.

They had the best of intentions but needed follow-through. Things happened so quickly that they failed to react. They failed. They fell into temptation and succumbed to sleep. This temptation is “not from indifference, but rather from sorrowful exhaustion” (MacDonald).

What did the Lord Jesus Christ do? He gave them another chance. He woke them and repeated His warning not to enter into temptation. And what did the disciples do? They repeated the same mistake and surrendered to sleep. In doing so, they were prevented from “being there” for the Lord Jesus Christ on this most dreadful of nights. By succumbing to physical exhaustion, they could not be fully present for their Lord. Essentially, they fell asleep while on guard duty, even as their enemies approached.

As bad as it was, it got even worse. All of the disciples abandoned the Lord Jesus Christ and fled as He predicted they would (Matthew 26:56).

Such personal failures do not take the Father by surprise nor alter His plans. Although we are responsible for our decisions, our decisions are part of a larger plan, determined and written in advance.


Wrestling with fear and doubt is not a sin; it is normal.

Father encourage me not to give up and keep watching and praying. I know my spirit is willing, but my physical body is weak.


Temptation and failure are universal experiences for all children of the King. When confronted with challenging decisions, we often rely on our own plans rather than adhering to the Father’s will. The Lord Jesus Christ also wrestled with this dilemma. Blessing often comes through wrestling. However, when discussions run their course and the struggle has ceased, our actions afterward reveal our character and steadfastness. The Lord Jesus Christ is the ideal example of resisting temptation and choosing to follow the Father’s plan, even though it would ultimately result in horrific suffering, anguish, and death.

Luke 22:41-44

 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed,

 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him.

 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.

In His anguish, fervent prayers, and final choices, the Lord Jesus Christ modeled perfect submission. He established a pattern and model that we can emulate. He modeled perfect submission. He based His decisions on a simple yet crucial principle. For the Lord Jesus, it was a simple matter of priorities. Who gets the final say? Who has the last word? Without further hesitation, the Lord Jesus decided. His words ring out for all eternity, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” We can follow Him. We can successfully resist even the greatest temptations and struggles.

Hebrews 12:1-4

 1 Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

 4 After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.

What was it that enabled the Lord Jesus Christ to endure the cross? During His time on earth, He did not exercise His divine powers for His personal interests or needs. It was His faith that enabled Him to endure. Rather than being dragged down in the now, He focused on “the joy that was set before Him.”

By submitting to the Father’s will, the Lord Jesus Christ reconciled the world to the Father. He successfully made atonement for sin through His death and resurrection. He made eternal salvation available for all that would accept it. One day He will have the great joy of ushering all believers into the eternal glory of the Father’s kingdom (Jude 24-25).

Mission accomplished! Job well done!

Instead of exerting control, Christ brings about transformation through the infusion of His inner peace.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 3-4-1

© Dr. H 2023

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