Abundant Life

The Goodness of Agony

No one likes to suffer. Agony isn’t very welcome, now is it! Jesus cried out in prayer before His impending suffering and death, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.” But as I reflect on Good Friday, what makes it so good, I realize this: there’s goodness in agony.

Jesus proceeds in His lament,

“Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done.” (Read Luke 22:40-46 here)

Nevertheless. The transition from immovable to glorified. The switch from insufferable to good.

After finishing that declaration, we are told that angels appeared from heaven, strengthening Jesus as He prayed. And, “being in agony, He prayed more earnestly; and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.”

The agony didn’t disappear. In fact, it heightened, to the point of sweating drops of blood. But when Jesus chose submission to His Father’s will, He was ministered to by angels. He was strengthened to endure the road set before Him.

Jesus’s “Nevertheless” made a way for us to find goodness in our own agony. Goodness. In agony. It sounds impossible, but it’s another paradox of faith. A wondrous, blessed realization—hope beyond chaos, strength beyond pain, joy beyond sorrows.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed…

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-17 NIV

Paul’s wording here is interesting. It’s not a command, “don’t lose heart“, no, it’s an affirmation “we don’t lose heart.” Somewhere along the way, this faithful hope in Jesus allows us access to a direct promise, a confident assurance, that losing heart is not a necessity.

For those who surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior, His agony made a way for goodness in ours.

Goodness, Friends. But how do we find it? Certainly, the struggles are real. They’re physically consuming, mentally draining, emotionally wearying.

We find it by fixing our eyes. (Read more about fixing your eyes here and here.)

Goodness comes when we let go of the chokehold of physical, mental, and emotional, and cling to the spiritual glory at work in and around us:

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV

This is where hope is found. This is where goodness is found. Paul says we are being renewed “day-by-day”, and I immediately think of Lamentations 3, where we read that God’s mercies are new every morning for us. Every day. Day by day. His mercies surround us. They sustain us. They call us out from the ashes and into the glorious light of hope through Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross.

How’s your heart today, Friends? Be blessed. Be strengthened. Fix your eyes. Goodness is yours to grab hold of through Christ, even in agony.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! – 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV

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