Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.”
A woman in her sixties passed away early this morning of cancer. She left behind a husband and two relatively young sons. Throughout her life she sacrificed for them, and they did very little in return. Her husband is a hardworking man, but very immature and irresponsible, especially when it comes to spending money. One of her son’s is pretty much a lazy man. The other has some developmental issues. This woman single handedly took care of her family, especially her disabled son. When she began to feel intense pain along her back, she ignored it; her threshold for pain had increased significantly with age and sacrifice. Even the doctors were amazed at how she could handle the pain with the cancer spreading all over her back. Well, this incredible woman didn’t have to suffer for long, but she did suffer. This morning she died. And for the first time since her illness, her husband and son began to weep.
There is a vicious rumor going around. It’s been going around for some time now, and if it weren’t so evil, one could almost say it was a joke. But this vicious rumor has been circulating for far too many generations. It goes something like this: “If you are blessed, then you will never suffer.”
I do not know when this rumor began or who began it. It may have started centuries ago, but it has spread across many Christian denominations, especially the non-denominational denominations.
Now this rumor must put it to rest, for it is of Satan, who would love to deceive us and pleasantly disappoint us by promising to us the eternal reward of eternal life without ever having to go through our very own Passion and death. It’s like someone promising us victory in a race without ever having to participate in the race.
“The Son of God suffered death on a Cross, not so that we might not suffer, but that our sufferings might be like His.” (George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series)
This is the truth. This is Gospel Truth. It’s time we start this rumor that is absolutely true.
They returned home beating their breasts. In one way or another, all of us will suffer. All of us will go through our very own Holy Week. We are entering that time of year when we remember not only the Lord’s passion and death, but that we too will go through our very own passion and death.
Everyone suffers, but not everyone suffers for the right reasons, for good reasons, for holy reasons. This is one of the greatest tragedies in life. I can’t imagine a worse type of suffering than to suffer for all the wrong reasons. And there are millions of people who are suffering today because they did something terribly wrong. And there is little to no glory in that.
But if we suffer for all the right reasons, then we will receive all the glory and praise that comes from it.
When we stand up for Christ, we know what will happen next: the same thing that happened to Christ. We will get humiliated, mocked and rejected. But the glory of the Lord rests upon those who imitate Him.
When a teen stand up to bullies or football players that humiliate others, even a defenseless girl, then that teen may get beaten up, but he/she will be considered a hero by God (and even the media!).
This pain and suffering is well worth it, for it is the continuation of Christ’s ministry on earth.
Let us not be afraid of it. Let us prepare for it. But first we must get rid of this silly notion that when we follow the Lord closely, we will not get nailed closely to Him.
When we see someone suffer for us or because of us, what are they saying to us? I believe it is something quite simple yet profound. It is the same exact thing that Christ nailed to the Cross could have said but didn't need to say, for actions speak louder than words, remember?
What is Christ saying to us? What are they saying to us? “You’re worth it. You’re worth all this pain.”
Just like this woman’s husband, the crowd began to weep when they began to understand what they had done.
Unfortunately, too many of us learn this lesson just a little too late.
Resolution: I will not fear the pain associated with following the Lord. Instead, I will fear the pain associated with distancing myself from the Lord.