“Thy will be done.” They are four simple words filled with significance. It takes subordination of our wants and wishes to the much more expansive knowledge possessed by our Creator. There seems to be a self-destructive nature within most, if not all, of us. It is fed by alcohol, drugs, sex, smoking, over-eating and dozens of other harmful habits. All of these are evidence of just how deep the need is for His will to take control.
The Son of God was not exempt from the anxiety of carrying out His Father’s plan (Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46). He faced the most traumatic event in eternity in giving His life for all the sins of all humanity for all time. Such a burden is beyond comprehension, and He collapsed beneath the stress. He knew the depths of the agony that He would soon endure, so He prayed fervently and tearfully. He pleaded for a change, but it was not to be. Had His Father turned a deaf ear?
No, His righteousness had kept the channels of communication open (Hebrews 5:7). God is both forgiving and just. The penalty for sin was set, had to be paid and it rested on His perfectly sinless shoulders to do so. His Father heard His prayer which included, “Thy will be done.” It was a self-denying acceptance of the ultimate plan of God to rescue us from that self-destructive course that sin leads us on (Galatians 1:4).
Paul had his famous “thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)” for which he asked God for relief. He was tormented by the Satanic messenger and begged the Lord on multiple occasions to remove it. The answer was repeatedly no. In that experience the apostle was taught the sufficiency of grace. God’s will? Clearly.
Recognizing his own weakness opened Paul’s eyes to his need for the grace and power of God. Reliance on himself was a shaky foundation upon which to build his ministry. Dependence on the Lord was essential. It is for us, too. It is much easier to spot the weakness of others than it is to identify our own. Self-reflection is uncomfortable yet necessary.
Isaiah saw the glory of God up close and personal (Isaiah 6:1-7). It knocked him to his knees as he realized his own unworthiness and those of the people around him. It was an unnerving encounter to catch a glimpse of the holy God. Stepping closer clarifies our vision of just how incomparably magnificent and pure our Lord is. We need Him and His cleansing.
The Son of God, as perfect and sinless as He was, prayed the prayer. Paul accepted the education that came through his “thorn in the flesh,” and learned the lesson of grace. Isaiah saw his own unworthiness. “Thy will be done.” It takes humility plus a willingness to relinquish control. Neither is easy. Both are life-changing.