‘Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven’. This  is one of the  seven petitions in the Lord’s prayer, the only prayer prescribed by  Jesus Christ.  Christian life is a  journey beginning  on earth and concluding in  the  kingdom of heaven where  the will of the Father is  accomplished in all its perfection. In fact nothing else  happens in heaven. Those who are invited into heaven have no other duty assigned to them except  fulfilling the will of  God.

 But the Lord’s prayer is not  for those in heaven. It is for us mortals.  Our Lord wanted us to strive for a kingdom of God here on earth. He wanted it to stay  here as a precursor to the  eternal kingdom that we are looking forward to. A kingdom becomes a kingdom of  God  when all its subjects act to advance  the will of God. To fulfill the will of our Heavenly  Father, we  should first know  what His will was.  And to  know it  we should turn to the  one and only person who ‘humbled himself  and became obedient to the point of death- even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8) to fulfilling it. 

Even at  the hour of  his great agony, Jesus’ concern was  how best to fulfill Father’s will. ‘Yet not my will but yours be done’ (Lk 22:42). It was perfect submission to  God’s will and  Jesus sacrificed everything  that stood in his way so that ‘God’s will be done’ on cross. And it was  for you and me, poor sinners.

What was God’s will to be  accomplished  through  Jesus? Prophet Isaiah has written extensively about it  some seven centuries  before the Word became flesh. It is not a  coincidence that  he used the same word that  Jesus used in  the Lord’s prayer. ‘Yet it was the  will of  the Lord to crush him with pain’ (Isa 53:10). Again, ‘ the  Lord has laid on him  the iniquity of us all’ (Isa 53:6). ‘ Through him the will of the Lord shall prosper’ (Isa 53:10).

 Isaiah’s prophecy hides the mystery of  Christian suffering, the epitome of which we see in the cross erected on Calvary.  As human beings, we are  averse to accept  sufferings. It is innate in our genes to  resist anything that  pains us.  Suffering becomes  painful when we look  towards ourselves. For the  unrepentant criminal, his pain multiplied because he was not ready to accept the  punishment.  His words betrays his frustration. ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us’ (Lk 23:39). He was  concerned about only one thing; to escape from the inescapable. To  escape bodily death by some miracle that he  wanted from  Jesus! But the  other  criminal    was  composed   in his  reaction. He was ready to accept the suffering as  just punishment for what he did in the past. His only petition to Jesus was for a seat  in the  kingdom to come.

Between these two criminals  stood the cross of Jesus. Even while going through the  heights of  unparalleled pain, he turned towards the person begging him for salvation and assured him  of it. 

Suffering becomes a pleasure  when it is for others. Jesus knew that his sufferings are the  only antivenom to the lethal  poison that the devil  cleverly injected into man. As Christians we are  called to  emulate  our  Lord and Master. They ‘ought to walk just as he walked’ (1 Jn 2:6). Many saints chose this arduous path. With Paul the Apostle they also say; ’But as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger…..’( 2 Cor 6:4-5).

Immense strength is required  to withstand the moments of suffering and they drew  it from the  powerhouse of hope. They  compared their  present afflictions with the reward promised to them and found that it is always beneficial to accept suffering  here on earth so that  they will be  entitled  to enter a place of eternal glory. ‘For  this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for  an eternal weight of  glory beyond any measure, because we look  not at what  can  be seen  but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen  is eternal’ (2 Cor 4:16).

Like the  criminal who looked to Jesus in  his last moments to gather the  strength to  face suffering, this  hope in eternity is what strengthens us also to accept suffering and pain with a composed mind.  We accept them fully knowing that they are just  momentary  when compared to the boundlessness of our days in heaven.

Let us accept suffering from the hands of God and prove ourselves to be worthy Christians.  Be assured that we are not alone in this suffering; ‘For you know that your brothers and sisters  in all the world are undergoing the same  kinds of suffering’ (1 Pet 5:9). Together we will suffer, and together we will win.

Let us pray for God’s will to be fulfilled in our life. See God, I have come to do your will,O God (Heb 10:7). May the Lord who suffered for us give each one of us the strength to accept  sufferings in  our life.