March 26, 2012

It is Finished

Hoping for a quick victory, I now realize that the battle has just begun. We are praying for someone whose life has fallen apart and seeing some progress. Because of unexpected yet welcome events, it appeared that God was at work and this person was open and ready for change in his spiritual life. However, any evidence of that was missing yesterday. 

I get discouraged easily when I cannot see progress. I come to the Lord thinking that my prayers have been in vain and nothing is working as I’d hoped. However, God reminds me again that I’m to walk by faith, not by sight. He also reminds me to keep my eyes on Jesus. From His life, I learn much. He is not only my example of how I need to live, but also my example of how I need to think. 

Today’s devotional reading is based on a short verse from His prayer shortly before the crucifixion. As He talks to God about eternal matters and His desire for the future, He says,
I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. (John 17:4)
Jesus actually had not yet died for the sins of the world. How could He say that He had finished the work His Father sent Him to do when He still had one major act of obedience ahead of Him? 

The person who wrote the devotional says it is because Jesus knew that when His will was yielded, the battle was as good as over. In the shadows of Gethsemane, Jesus battled the cup of suffering and death. That battle ended when He said, “Not my will but thine be done.” As soon as He willed to die, He already triumphed over death. The cup is “easy for the lips to drain it when once the heart has accepted it” because “the real battlefield is in the silence of the spirit.” Because He conquered that battle, it was over and Jesus had finished what God sent Him to do. 

In the same way, prayer is my battle. Having God’s assurance of answered prayer is very powerful. It ought to be the same as declaring, “It is finished” even though the answer is not yet in sight. This is almost too profound for me, yet I can see that the Lord wants me to cling to this, not to what my eyes can see. He has given assurance and expects His word and promise to be my confidence, enough to say it is finished.

I can see that this confidence is no different from faith in eternal salvation. I have eternal life as a gift from God. I am completely assured of heaven, yet cannot see anything of it with my eyes. What is my assurance based on? Is it not the promises of God and faith in Him to keep His promises? 

In the same way, He promises to answer prayer. Do I have to see the answer before I believe what He says? Unfortunately, I’ve thought that way and too easily abandoned prayer because the answer didn’t come as quickly as I’d hoped. Now I can see that because of the faithfulness of the One who promised, I can consider this as good as done and pray with the assurance that “it is finished.” 

Lord, I need to confess my doubts. So often, my faith wavers under delay and lack of visual evidence. That has never happened regarding my eternal destiny, so why should my faith jump all over the place when it comes to assurance about other things that You clearly promise? Forgive my quickness to doubt You in these things that You have once given me faith to believe. Increase my faith and may my heart be like Your heart, realizing that once You determine what needs to be done, You will not only see it through to the end, but even now consider that it is already accomplished.

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