Becoming Spiritual Decathletes: Part 6

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Pastor Mark Mikels – August 3, 2008


“Becoming Spiritual Decathletes”

(“Connecting With Christ” Series – Part 45)

Mark 14:32-42

Intro … Today we continue our examination of the Great Spiritual
Decathlon that occupied the Lord Jesus the final eight days of his
earthly life – ten incredible spiritual challenges that taxed him to
the max – ten spiritual exertions that lay out a pattern that we
ourselves are called upon to follow.

So far we have seen him engage in four of the ten:

Temple Cleansing – Question Handling

Future Facing – Battle Preparing

Today, in this Communion Meditation, we take a look at …

Christ’s Fifth Great Challenge …


“COPING with the severe CIRCUMSTANCES that come our way”

The play by play of this fifth challenge is recorded in Mark 14:32-42.
Here’s how it reads …

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his
disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along
with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul
is over- whelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them.
“Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if
possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said,
“everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I
will, but what you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he
said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is
willing, but the body is weak.”

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back,
he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did
not know what to

say to him.

Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and
resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed
into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

There was some serious stuff going on in the Garden of Gathsemane that

“He began to be deeply distressed and troubled”.

Jesus was under great stress and distress there in that quiet place.

Something of the full scope of what was facing him began to impact him.

He would not be just dying for us; he would be dying as us.

The Holy, Sinless Son of God would become sin-filled – that which God

most despised he would become!

It was a time of agony for him. Luke reports in his account that Jesus
sweat out great drops of blood during his exertions there. The process
of being “poured out” began there in the Garden.

You could make the point that Jesus’ sufferings in the Garden were no
less severe than his subsequent sufferings on the cross. He was in
great distress – so much so that he feared for his life, feared that
the entire ordeal might break him beyond repair.

None of us will ever experience what Jesus did in the Garden but life
will most likely bring to all of us circumstances of extreme distress.
And at those times we would do well to follow the pattern that Jesus
laid down as we seek to cope.

There may be some in this room for whom today is such a day. You are in

the midst of something severe and you want to cope successfully with

You want to emerge on the other side of this circumstance with yourself

and your faith intact.

Within this passage I discovered Five Key Coping Mechanisms:

five specific steps to take whenever we cope with severe distress …

1. CONNECT With Those You Especially LOVE

“He took Peter, James and John …”

“He fell to the ground and prayed”

Too often in times of severe distress we retreat from others; we pull
back and we pull away. We almost forget than anyone else exists and we
can easily forget that they care.

Jesus didn’t do that … in the midst of a great turmoil of soul,
facing a time of severe testing (one that we can’t even imagine) he
took his chosen band with him and he selected Peter, James and John to
stay especially close to him. He loved those men and he couldn’t
imagine going through what he was going through without them near.

Notice also he didn’t retreat from His Heavenly Father – he nearly ran
into the Father’s Presence.

In times of severe circumstances, we must connect with those we
especially love – it’s critical for coping and for coming through with
ourselves and our faith intact.

2. COMMUNICATE Openly And Honestly With Them – verse 34

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”

“Take this cup from me”

How those words must have struck the disciples’ ears!

What could possibly bring their Lord to such a place of distress?

Having people we can be completely honest with is a critical coping
component. Even the Lord Jesus needed someone to hear exactly

how he felt.

Notice – to their credit – that none of the disciples tried to counsel
him. They just heard him and stuck with him. They were providing a
ministry by simply being there for him.

It’s a comforting and an encouraging thing to know that there are
people in your life with whom you can share your most honest feelings –
people who will not think any the less of you.

Jesus took the same approach and risk with his Heavenly Father …

“Take this cup from me”

“I want out – I can’t do it – I didn’t realize all that it would

In the courts of heaven, in a kind of academic, intellectual way, it
seemed like an awesome thing to do for man but here in this place with
the whole ordeal right in front of me, it’s pretty overwhelming.”

If God the Father can handle the stressed-out cries of his own only
begotten Son, he can certainly handle ours. Honest and open
communication with God and man is a powerful coping device.

Now here comes an absolute key if we are to emerge on the other side of
the situation with both our relationships (human and divine) and our
faith intact.

3. CONTENT Yourself With WHATEVER They Can Do

“The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”

“Everything is possible for you” (isn’t it?) –

“Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Let’s follow the dialogue and discern exactly what’s being said here.

There’s a limit to what our loved ones can do to assist us in our times
of great distress. The most important thing that they can do is “be

and communicate that they will always “be there” for they love us even

as we love them.

It’s as though Jesus had said … “Simon – your spirit is way ahead of
your flesh. But I love you anyway … you are a comfort to me.”

I believe he “contented himself” in what Simon and the others were able

to do.

There’s also a limit to what God can do …

“Everything is possible for you” (isn’t it?) –

The answer to that implied question is a resounding “NO” – in no way is
“everything possible for God” … some things are actually unthinkable
for God – things that He would never do … the abilities of God are
limited by the purposes of God.

Jesus knew that … the salvation of man could be accomplished in no
other way.

But he honestly brought his request. Having come face to face with what
he was face to face with, he would opt out if he could.

If there was any other way, he would take it; and he knew that if there
was any other way, his Heavenly Father would provide it.

And confident in that knowledge, he contented himself in what he Father
could and would do …

“Yet … not what I will, but what you will.”

Coping Mechanism #4 …

4. COMMIT Yourself To The OUTCOME As Being God’s Will For You

“Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough, the hour has come”

“Look, the son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners”

“Rise! Let us go!”

It’s almost as though Jesus was saying …

“Okay, I didn’t get all that I wanted from my friends (though I sure
was glad that they were here with me) and I didn’t get what I asked for
from my God (though I know he heard and cares for me), but it’s alright
because I absolutely believe that God is in charge and that what is
happening right now is in accord with His Will and Purpose for my life
and for the world. So let’s move on!”

And in his commitment to the outcome, Jesus demonstrated his confidence
(there’s another “C”) in the over-arcing plan and purposes of God; and
confidence is a powerful tool during troublesome times for confidence
is simply another word for “faith”.

Four powerful coping mechanisms for times of severe distress …

Connect With Those You Especially Love

Communicate Openly And Honestly With Them

Content Yourself With Whatever They Can Do

Commit Yourself To The Outcome As Being God’s Will For You

And now I’m going to cheat a bit in adding a fifth … It’s a coping
device gathered by inference from Luke’s account of Christ’s Garden

5. COUNT ON God Bringing You Through (Luke 22:43)

“An angel from heaven strengthened him”

Our Heavenly Father is committed to “bringing us through” these times
of great distress that life brings our way.

He commissioned an angel to come and assist Jesus in the midst of that
incredible Garden Struggle. That might be the same thing that he
chooses to do for you and me.

In the Book of Hebrews chapter one verse fourteen it reveals that

“All angels are ministering spirits sent to serve

Those who will inherit salvation.”

But whether by an angel outside of us or His Holy Spirit within us or
his people around us, God is committed to bringing us through. We can
count on that and that fact will give us “hope in the storm”.

Our final thot this morning re-states the sobering truth around which
this message has been built even as it reminds us of the focus God
would have us take as we encounter stressful times in our lives.

Final Thot …

Sooner or later, we will all be called upon to MANAGE EXTREME DISTRESS
– so, don’t forget the lessons of the GARDEN!