Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." —Matthew 26:38-39
Behind the slain ego, first, is the way of the cross. That is how Jesus did it. It seems that Jesus suffered more in the five days between Palm Sunday and Good Friday than in the rest of His thirty-three years on earth. His whole life was a life of suffering and self-denial, but what He endured in those five days was the greatest conceivable kind of suffering. He was helpless, nailed to the cross, refusing to defend Himself. He was willing to be misunderstood. And on top of that, God hid His face.
Behind the slain ego is a willingness to be broken. Salvation works in three stages: mind, heart, and will. I am grateful to Dr. Lloyd-Jones for this insight. It is the order in which we perceive, get gripped by things, and carry them out. It is true with salvation, and it is also true with suffering. For example, the mind perceives it as being the way forward. The heart is gripped by the opportunity to be more like Jesus.
But there is a third stage: the will. We make a deliberate choice. When the devil comes and hits us hard, and we are sorely tempted—that is when we make a choice for brokenness. Mind, heart, will—it becomes a choice.
Things may devastate us, and sometimes we cry to God, "Lord, how could You do this to me?" And God says, "You just blew it!" God would rather have us accept the hurt without the complaining, accept His timing in our lives, and be open to any further word from the Lord.
Excerpted from Just Love (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1997).