39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.
If you could know exactly how you would die and when, would you want to know?
On some level, yes I would want to know so that I could plan for my family better. But would I be able to think clearly and plan better if I knew when and how I was going to die? Or, would that knowledge breed a paralyzing fear in me instead, especially if that knowledge described a death similar to the one Jesus was facing?
I go back and forth on this question, in the hypothetical.
Let’s pretend I have a terminal disease that isn’t catching or anything, so it’s no threat to my family or anyone else. Do I want to have confirmation from a doctor that, yes, I’m going to die in so many months or days or weeks? Do I want to have confirmation on how the disease will progress and manifest over my last weeks on earth? Do I really want to know in advance, how much pain I’m going to suffer prior to dying?
I don’t know about others but 1/2 of me, ok, so closer to 99% of me, does NOT want to know this! I don’t want confirmation of this because then I am forced to think about it. And once I think about it, then I have to accept it. Why on earth do I want to do this any sooner than I absolutely HAVE to?
And what if the doctor is wrong? What if, instead of 3 months to live, I would actually have 5 years because it suddenly slowed down? And what if because the doc told me 3 months, I inadvertently made it happen because my will to live was gone and buried in fear? What if?
Jesus knew He was going to die. He knew His death was going to be horrible and painful. Jesus knew His Father, our Mighty and Power God, was going to pour out His wrath on Him without mercy. Jesus knew His death would serve a purpose and that His death would be the most important event ever. Jesus told His disciples several times what was to come prior to that night in Gethsemane, but we aren’t given a visual of Jesus troubled by it until now, when the time was at hand.
Jesus was no hypocrite! “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34) Jesus knew what was to come, and while all of us would be railing and begging and pleading with God every day, mired in a dread and fear so thick it would make living sluggish if not bring it to a standstill altogether; Jesus carried on. Jesus kept the faith and kept right on teaching.
We see some people who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses become bitter towards others who are healthy. We see them move through the grieving process even though they are still alive and their time has not come yet. We are told this is healthy. Is it? Is it truly healthy to grieve for yourself? To grieve for anyone who is not dead yet? How can that be healthy?
We also see others who face this knowledge with such tranquility and inner peace you wonder if they truly understand what they are facing. I would hope to have such immense grace if this ever becomes my reality because it would mean God is filling me up to overflowing.
Let’s face it, people are not meant to know the time and manner of their deaths. As a Christian I do not fear death itself because I know that to be absent from the body is to be present with Christ (2 Corinthians 5). But let’s be honest…I totally fear the pain that death may bring!
I personally have had an experience in my life that gives me a boost in the faith department on this issue.
During the birth of my first son, I was 19 years old. My doctors gave me Pitocin and instead of stopping it once my contractions began, they kept upping the dosage. It was a difficult birth with my contractions spiking off the monitors. The epidural wasn’t given correctly and was ineffective. The morphine they gave me made me blind. I remember being torn in two. I also remember hearing screaming and not knowing where it was coming from. I remember looking down and seeing my friend lead my mom out of the room. She had her arm around my mom’s shoulders and my mom was crying.
My mom filled in the gaps afterward.
My mom had to leave the room because the morphine finally knocked me unconscious but I was still screaming out loud in that unconscious state. She couldn’t take seeing her daughter scream like a wild animal, unconscious. She thought they were killing me. There was no way I could have seen my friend walk her out of the room. Not only was I unconscious at the time but I was blinded by the morphine and couldn’t focus my eyes at all.
The reason I share this story is because this event is relevant to the discussion. I watched my mom and friend walk out of the room at a point when my pain was truly too much for my body and mind to bear.
God protected me. He didn’t give me more than I could handle because at a certain point He released me so that I wouldn’t suffer more than I could bear. When I watched them leave the room, I was not in pain. My body, yes, it was in pain, that is why I was screaming being unconscious. But the other part of ME, was not in pain. I was at peace.
Sounds crazy but it happened. And because it happened, I can say with confidence, that no matter what your death may look like…it will NOT be more than you can bear.
I am all for following the advice of Jesus on this though:
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34)
He didn’t dwell on His own death before it was at hand and neither should we with ours.
No matter how or when death finds us, it will be according to God’s will. So if a Doctor happens to tell you when and how you are going to die, well, I’m sorry, but that Doctor isn’t God, and God still works miracles in people’s lives. For those being held by ISIS, those who are suffering and witnessing barbaric deaths… cling to your faith and hold tight to Jesus Christ and know that the Body is lifting you up with prayer.