We certainly don't pray for tough times. In fact we usually pray to get out of the tough seasons we find ourselves in. In difficult, painful times it helps to look at the seven things Jesus said when He was on the cross. He, of course, was right in the center of the Father’s will when he was on that cross. What did he do and say when he was in the most difficult moment of his life? Here are the seven things Jesus said on the cross:
1. "...It is finished!" John 19:30 (NIV)
This was the end of one season and the beginning of another. Sometimes it is only through the death of something in a “cross” experience that God can birth a new thing in our lives. One of the great pieces of life wisdom is to know when something is over, to know when it is finished. At this moment, Jesus knew that he had completed what the father had asked him to do. This understanding was the bridge into the new life in store for him. Hebrews 12:2(NIV) says Jesus endured the cross by focusing on the joy of what was on the other side. Death always precedes new life. There is new life on the other side of our death experiences!
2. "...My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46 (NIV)
Jesus was forsaken by God on the cross so it never has to happen to us! In times of pain and struggle we feel isolated, often from the people closest to us. But because of what Jesus did for us we don’t need to feel isolated from God. He is “ever present”. He will never leave us or forsake us. Hebrews 13:5
3. "...Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing..." Luke 23:34 (NIV)
Un-forgiveness is possibly one of the most damaging aspects of human relationships. When we forgive we are being like Christ. It’s significant that when Jesus was taking the punishment for the “offences” of the world against God, he was forgiving the very people doing it to him! Jesus exemplified that the greatest level of forgiveness is to forgive those who don't know they need to be forgiven. Offense at others (and not forgiving them) causes so much destruction in people’s lives, driving a wedge between them. Hebrews 12:15 urges Christians to be proactive in removing offense and being quick to forgive just as God forgives us. An awareness of our own need for God's forgiveness and grace helps us see that answering offense with forgiveness is God's way.
4. "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise." Luke 23:43 (NIV)
Jesus was on a cross but he knew where he was going. More importantly he knew that he was preparing a way for others to follow. He wasn’t trying to avoid the cross or the pain, but to go through it so others could be blessed as a result. Travelling through a tough time to a breakthrough gives revelation that can be powerfully shared. Our pain once we breakthrough helps others break through.
5. "...Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.." Luke 23:46 (NIV)
It can be hard in life to decide when to trust and when to have faith. Both faith and trust are needed at different points. Trust is our expression of “letting go”, whereas faith is our expression of hanging on and pushing through. On the cross Jesus exhibited the ultimate expression of trust! He let go! He trusted the father with his life. Jesus' submission on the cross was both. He trusted God enough to allow His own death but had faith that God's plan was being fulfilled. When only God can fulfill the vision, we need to allow the death of our own will in order for Him to do it. Because Jesus went to death on the cross and came out the other side in resurrection life, we know we can trust God with anything, and at our time of struggle say to God...”I trust you, I commit my life to you and let go of this situation!”
6. "Woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." John 19:26-27 (NIV)
Jesus lived a selfless life. Even at the point of death and his own suffering he was concerned about the wellbeing of others (His mother and the disciple). There is something that happens in our own cross experience where we “die” to ourselves being first priority and begin to live for others. True Christianity is born in our lives at this point.
7. "...I am thirsty." John 19:28 (NIV)
Jesus, even though he was the son of God dying for the sins of the world, expressed very natural, human need and he was totally reliant on others satisfying that need. Tough experiences make us recognize our dependence upon others. As part of His great plan God wants to connect us with other people and the only way for the enemy to thwart this is to disconnect us, or prevent us from becoming connected in the first place. It’s healthy to be able to recognize your “thirst” and your dependence on others. We need each other and it begins with us recognizing that our dependence on each other is real.