Hebrews 12:2b (NIV) For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
“On the cross Jesus was treated as valueless, being mocked and ridiculed – in short, being ‘scorned’ or ‘shamed.’ He, however, turned the experience inside out, ‘scorning the scorn,’ or in the author’s words here, ‘scorning the shame…’”[G. H. Guthrie, NIVAC, p.399]
“We are invited to walk in the steps of a conqueror.” [John White, The Cost of Commitment, p.110]
Jesus was not a masochist, nor an ascetic, nor did he hyper spiritualize suffering. Jesus faced the suffering of the cross as the only way to redeem sinners. It was for the joy set before him that he suffered. He suffered in his loving obedience to the Father and in his love for us. Jesus did not receive suffering passively, but he overcame the world. We are beckoned to walk in his steps.
Let’s worship to “Another in the Fire” (click here) by Chris Davenport & Joel Timothy Houston.
Let’s pray: Jesus, thank you for your obedience to the cross. Jesus, I bow down and worship you because you are worthy. Your love for me is incomprehensible. Fill me with your Spirit today to be faithful to follow in your steps as you have called me to live like you, loving you and loving others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
“In suffering, then, I give thanks. I give thanks not for the suffering…but in it. I thank him that his grace is sufficient…And as I praise and thank him, I become aware of two things. The suffering lessens. It lessens because peace in suffering halves its intensity, so that the anxiety and fear that accompanied it have gone. In addition, hope as well as a sense of meaning is born in the suffering. I become almost excited that it will turn to my good.”
“To grasp the secret of disciplinary suffering is to experience a transformation.”
[John White, The Cost of Commitment, p.88-89]
Christian’s goal is not to avoid all suffering, suffering will be there for the Christian, but what will our response be like when suffering comes our way? Let’s be soft hearted in what God could do in the present. May this come about in our lives “…it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Let’s worship to “In Over My Head” (click here) by Jenn Johnson.
Let’s pray: Father God, I turn towards you and ask for your grace to soften my heart and strengthen me. Lord I want to know you more during this time. May I be transformed to be more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Hebrews 12:9-10 (NLT/NIV) Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.
“…the cause matters relatively little. What matters is my reaction to suffering. For I may be ‘trained by’ suffering without understanding fully the reasons giving rise to it…He is still the active ruler of the universe. He is still my heavenly Father. He knows what I suffer and cares. For all of this I must thank and praise him. Moreover, in a way that defies analysis, God is able to bring good out of evil.” [John White, The Cost of Commitment, p.89]
“Divine discipline” is only for God’s children. Christian suffering by way of discipline – correction and instruction is only for legitimate children. Suffering no matter the origin (common lot or sin committed) could be used by God for good of the child. The point isn’t ultimately to make sense of suffering, but encounter God, our heavenly Father in our suffering.
Let’s pray: Father God, I want to encounter you today. You love me so much. Help me to experience your Father’s love for me. Thank you for affirming my identity. I submit to your loving training for me as your child. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Ephesians 1:8b-10 (NIV) With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
“We have no other position than at the foot of the cross. After we have been there we are given the answer of the wisdom of God, which incenses the advocates of optimistic theodicies or of tragic philosophies. God’s answer is evil turned back upon itself, conquered by the ultimate degree of love in the fulfillment of justice. This answer consoles us and summons us. It allows us to wait for the coming of the crucified conquer. He will wipe away the tears from every face, soon.” [Henri Blocher, Evil and the Cross, p.133)
Suffering is common to all but can’t be fully rationalized. The world is looking for answers, but they aren’t satisfactory. Scripture reveals that the most satisfactory reconciliation of our suffering only comes through encounter with the cross of Jesus Christ. Let’s come to the foot of the cross with our troubled hearts. Jesus is the answer of the wisdom of God. Hear Jesus summoning you.
Let’s worship to “How He Loves” (click here) by John Mark McMillan.
Let’s pray: Jesus, I place myself at the foot of the cross and wait there. By your help, I receive your love displayed on the cross. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV) 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
“The evil at the heart of the trial does not as such produce Christian patience or endurance: that is a fruit of the Spirit, a fruit of grace that allows one to endure. Never does Scripture give thanks for sins or for evils as such, but, in every circumstance, for the very present help of the Lord, and for the sovereign direction that he maintains over all that occurs.” [Henri Blocher, Evil and the Cross, p.89]
When we walk through the darkest valley, our Lord, who is our shepherd, is the one who is with us. He is not absent or ignoring us, but the complete opposite. He is actively involved and present with us with his rod and his staff. He is actively fathering us. May his love drive out the fear. May this truth bring you comfort today, that the Lord is with you in your life situation now.
Let’s worship to “Psalm 23 – Surely Goodness & Mercy” (click here) by Shane & Shane.
Let’s pray: Lord, you are my shepherd. As I walk through the valley, Lord, help me to put my trust in you. Lord, fill me with your Spirit, that I may experience you are with me. May your rod and staff bring comfort to me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.