joy 30 day devotional through the gospel of luke

Luke 22:39–46 (NLT) Then, accompanied by the disciples, Jesus left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. 40 There he told them, “Pray that you will not give in to temptation.” 41 He walked away, about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” 43 Then an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened him. 44 He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. 45 At last he stood up again and returned to the disciples, only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation.” 

The most passionate prayer that has ever been prayed in the history of the world is this prayer by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus was so overcome with stress as He faced the cross that the capillaries on His face ruptured (a known medical phenomenon called hematohidrosis) so that blood mixed with His sweat fell from His face as He prayed.

Since Jesus was tempted to the maximum extent and resisted, it would be fair to say this is the most powerful temptation in the history of the world.  Yet in His agony there was ultimate victory and ultimate joy!

He suffered in the garden among the olive trees.  Gethsemane means “olive press.”  The ancient olive trees still there to this day remind us of how Jesus entered the “garden of the olive press” under great duress.  

Yet He emerged victorious determined to do the Father’s will.  He said, “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.” (John 10:18).  

There are times when joy is in agony.  That might sound strange, but there are times when we must face agony in order to experience fullness of joy.  For example, this past week my beautiful granddaughter, Audrey, sat for her state board exam as an esthetician.  She truly agonized over this exam.  If she didn’t pass the exam, she couldn’t graduate from her class.  She agonized as she studied, and she agonized the morning she left for the exam.  A few hours later, however, she was filled with joy! 

You may be in a time of agony right now, but I can assure you joy is coming!  Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me…but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy.” (John 16:20).  It is interesting how often agony and joy are connected.  

Just like Jesus’ agony was turned into joy, so too God can turn your agony into joy!  The Lord taught me this truth after Donna was killed.  This passage below became both a source of hope during the “nighttime of my suffering,” and became a source of strength when the suffering was replaced with “joy in the morning.” 

Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5 

So What?  When was a time you experienced agony that ultimately led to joy?  Write a reflection on this below as a prayer to the Lord.

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