56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
What the cross tells us is this: God is not sitting in a deckchair in heaven watching all the suffering down here. No, he has come into our world to suffer for us. Jesus showed us the supreme example of love by sacrificing himself for you and for me. [The cross] tells us this: that evil has been defeated. The powers of evil have been defeated on the cross, and that there’s going to be a good ending! The resurrection was not the reversal of a defeat; it was the manifestation of a victory. And it tells us that the story ends well.
What does Nicky Gumbel mean when he says “the story ends well”?
Today’s passage is often read at Christian funerals. In what ways is it an important word for all seasons of life?
How is Christ’s victory over death good news for those who are hopeless and presently find no meaning to life?
Today, let us rejoice for death and suffering do not have the final word. We can live with a new perspective and genuine hope – a hope that is grounded in Christ’s victory on the cross. Let’s worship to The Cross Stands by Tim Hughes.
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
In the midst of suffering Paul cries out to God for an answer. The Lord responds with deliverance, but it is not in the form of immediate healing. Rather, it is deliverance through God given grace. Throughout the ages Christians who have suffered have trusted in what NT Wright calls “one of the most comforting, reassuring, healing, and steadying ‘words of the Lord’ ever recorded.”
Have you ever experienced a time when God answered your prayer in a way you did not ask, yet it was exactly what was needed? What does this reveal about God’s wisdom, timing, and provision?
Some mistakenly understand the Lord’s response to mean that God’s grace is somehow revealed by suffering itself, that God is somehow glorified through human pain and suffering. No. To be clear, suffering in of itself does not glorify God. Why does Paul boast then in his weaknesses?
Today in closing let’s ask for the God-dependent-life as we live our daily lives. For those who are presently suffering, let’s pray for the Lord’s deliverance. He will answer and give us the grace to live in his power today. Let’s worship to Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher.
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
Here Jesus encounters a woman who “suffered a great deal” for twelve years. Desperate for healing, she grabs the edge of Jesus’ cloak and is healed.
Was it Jesus’ power that rescued the woman, or her own faith? Clearly it was Jesus’ power; but he says, ‘Your faith has rescued you.’ The answer must be that faith, though itself powerless, is the channel through which Jesus’ power can work. He is not a magician, doing conjuring tricks by some secret power for an amazed but uninvolved audience. He is God’s son, the one through whom the living God is remaking Israel, humans, the world. And faith, however much fear and trembling may accompany it, is the first sign of that remaking.
– NT Wright
In what ways was the woman’s suffering physical, social, and spiritual? In what ways is Jesus’ healing more than just a medical cure?
NT Wright implies we are not to be an “uninvolved audience” to God’s miraculous healing power. In what ways can we participate in ushering in God’s power in our church and ministries?
Today, let’s trust that God is able to heal our deepest hurts. Ask God that we may live in faith – a faith that believes not only for the present time, but also looks forward to the future when Jesus returns and all suffering comes to an end.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
In apostle Paul’s day, the Stoics supposedly “conquered” pain by ignoring it, saying pain is due to merely one’s own estimate of it. But the Bible (and our own personal experience!) tells us that suffering is not imagined but real. Paul’s words remind us that Christ’s victory on the cross over sin and death is now our victory. Christians are, as Dr. Michael Gorman puts it, “hyper-conquerors”. We are better than the Stoics who merely imagined they were conquerors. In Christ we are overcomers in the most profound sense.
Paul understood suffering as something not merely to be endured but also as a fundamental way we participate and identify with Christ’s suffering. What does this teach us about being Christ’s disciples?
What difficulties or struggles are we facing today individually and as a community? What does it mean to face these difficulties as a “hyper-conqueror”?
Paul writes “We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” How does the love of Jesus displayed on the cross serve as an encouragement for us as we face hardship?
Today let’s pray that we would live as hyper-conquerors, totally dependent on Christ and also fully confident in Him. Let’s worship to Won’t Stop Now by Elevation Worship.
We find, as we observe how God is addressed, that he is understood as One who forgives sin, who comes to those who wait and hope for him, who is characterized by steadfast love and plenteous redemption, and who will redeem Israel. God makes a difference. God acts positively toward his people. God is not indifferent. He is not rejecting. He is not ambivalent or dilatory. He does not act arbitrarily, in fits and starts. He is not stingy, providing only for bare survival.
– Eugene Peterson Long Obedience In The Same Direction
Six times in Psalm 130 the psalmist addresses the Lord not with the generic word for “God”, but with his personal name, “Yahweh” (LORD). What does this suggest about how God wants to relate to us that he would give us his personal name to call on?
What does it mean to wait on the Lord with your “whole being”? What are practical everyday ways we can wait in this way?
The watchman in today’s psalm is waiting for the sunrise. In your experience has the sun ever failed to rise? What does this suggest about the kind of hope we have in the Lord?
Today, let us pray and wait on God who makes a difference – he works powerfully in our circumstances, provides everything that we need, and gives us his grace to live in the Lord’s victory.