By Phil Ronzheimer, Little Falls Alliance Church
It’s more than an imprint on coin or paper. It’s meant to be a lifestyle. When Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden,” he assumed we would grow weary, discouraged and disheartened. Jesus had no romantic, pie-in-the-sky ideas of what following him would be like. He knew we would face pain, hardship, loss of loved ones, disappointment, failure, and even rejection. He knew there’d be times when prayer would lack any sense of reality. Teresa of Avila once prayed, “Lord, if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few!”
Even God’s son knew what it was like to be forgotten by the father. The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews wrote of Jesus, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Heb. 4:15-16).”
Do you get discouraged? The prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as a “man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.”
Do you experience pain? Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities and chastised for our peace.
Are you facing hardship? During Jesus’ three years of itinerant ministry, he had no permanent place of residence.
Have you grieved over the loss of loved ones? Jesus wept at the grave of his friend, Lazarus.
Have your friends disappointed you? Jesus’ disciples failed him again and again.
Have you ever felt like God has abandoned you? Jesus did when on the cross of crucifixion he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
We need to trust God.
He is worthy of our trust in the midst of the darkest night – when we see no light at all. We need to trust him because of who he is, regardless of our circumstances. If we hold trust hostage until we get proofs or visions, it is a bogus trust. When we press the Lord for tangible reassurances again and again, our capacity for trust diminishes.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, he said an amazing thing to his disciples, “I must tell you the truth; it is for your own good that I am going.”
Huh? How so? Because the longer he stayed on earth, the greater would be their temptation to rely on sight and the less they would exercise the spiritual muscles of faith. To see Jesus in the flesh was wonderful, but Jesus said, “More blessed are they who have not seen and have believed.”
“Trust clings to the belief that whatever happens in our lives is designed to teach us holiness. The love of Christ inspires us to thank God for the nagging headaches, the arthritis that is so painful, the spiritual darkness that envelopes us; to say with Job, ‘If we take happiness from God’s hand, should we not take sorrow too?’” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel)
Pray with Charles Foucauld, “Abba, I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you. I am ready for all. I accept all. Let your will be done in me and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my spirit. I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you Lord and I give myself, surrender myself into your hands without reserve, with boundless confidence, for you are my father.”