“Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”
A major part of grief which we need to allow ourselves to go through, with the Good Shepherd guiding us, involves a phase that is called bargaining. Like all the other Jesus grief stages that we have discussed previously — Shock/Denial, Anger and depression — this one will surely happen along the way. The key is to simply let the journey continue. Don’t resist it. Don’t build up some way to dam it up to keep it from happening. Just surrender to it, and go with the flow of grief.
The “If Only’s” Or “Only Ifs”
One way to understand this part of the journey is to think about the “if only’s” or the “only ifs” that you might be surprised will flow from your lips, as you seek to make a bargain with God. You may find yourself in a grief situation like many military people whose lives are in danger, and a bargain is struck with God. “God, if only you will help me get out of this, I will never get drunk again.” Or, “God, if only you help me get out of this, I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life.” Still another way of looking at bargaining could include statements like the following: “If only I had done __________ (fill in the blank) my child wouldn’t have had to suffer.” “If only I had been a better parent then _________ (fill in the blank) things would have turned out differently.” Or “If only I had been there this wouldn’t have happened.” So, we are not talking about just making some bargain with God, but we are also talking about using this stage to help you and me cope with whatever loss is potentially looming on the horizon of life or has already occurred. You may think that this is insane, but it is not. It’s a necessary experience that, while it may not seem rational, is indeed helpful.
A Bargain of Sorts Jesus Made
When Jesus was in a very scary place in a garden, he knew that the wounds, bruises and painful agonizing death was coming soon. He knew that his purpose for being on earth was about to manifest itself in some horrific ways. The clearly human part of Jesus made a bargain, and it worked in helping him get to the next level in his journey. The bargain, did not change the outcome anymore than our bargaining actually physically changes our circumstance. But it does help us to keep on keeping on. As many know he is recorded in Luke 22:42 as saying, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” It’s like he was saying a similar thing to what our military folks above said, “Father, you have what it takes to remove this painful experience from me. If only you would do it that would be great” Then he gave the rest of the bargain: But if you want’ something else, then let it be as you want. Circumstances did not change one bit; however, Jesus was given the strength to, as I said, keep on keeping on.
Give Yourself Permission: Go Ahead and Bargain
If you want to experience what I call “Good Grief,” go ahead make your bargains. You are in good company, even the company of Jesus and a myriad of people who have grieved before you. God is willing to listen to you, and God will help you. I am not saying God will change the circumstances, but he will transform you through it all and help you get through to the other side of this valley of the shadow of death. To receive spiritual, psychological, sociological and physical benefit from your grieving, go ahead and process the grief by writing about, sharing with others, OR talking to God about your personal “Only If’s” or “If Only’s.” God bless you.