Saturday, April 19, 2014

Don't Waste the Pain

We wonder at Jesus life, which was atypical and note-worthy, and his death, which was common and excruciating. Even more than that, the wonder of Jesus is the after-death, the now.

According to American politics, Easter is the celebration of "Jesus' life and death." What they fail to acknowledge is the truth: Easter is the celebration of Jesus' life and death. And life.

Because Jesus rose from the dead, my sin is forgiven. Because Jesus rose from the dead, He's reigning now and will reign for eternity. He is praying for me, living within me, providing and caring...for me.

Our world is rotten. Broken. People hurt people. Nature hurts people. Nations hurt people. We hurt ourselves. But if we knew and believed and trusted that God was using it all, working it all, showering His love grace and mercy through it all--if we knew, if we believed, if we trusted, it would be okay. Not pleasant. Not easy. Not comprehensible. But okay.

Jesus didn't have a home (Luke 9:58). His family thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21) and were not among His supporters (Luke 8:1-3). He was plotted against (Matthew 26:3-4); misrepresented and misunderstood (Matthew 26:59). We think we know the crucifixion story--and we should. But when we are attacked, mistreated and taken advantage of, the last person we think of is Jesus. It is so hard for us to imagine the disgrace and intense suffering He endured; there is part of us that simply doesn't want to. Spiritually, we have to put our hands on either side of our face and force ourselves to take in the scene, the torturous execution and absolute isolation. Jesus endured all of this--and still, He was okay. The situation was under control. God was working His plan. The circumstances were not permanent or damning. They were purposeful and intentional.

Jesus trusted His Father. He knew and believed and surrendered.  And He bought freedom. He rose from the dead--healed, restored, glorified. His is exalted. He loves. He lives. He is.

When I am mistreated, misunderstood, and abused, I can run to Jesus. He knows. He absorbed the pain of my rebellion and disobedience. He will welcome me with open arms. He will accept and forgive and cover; protect, heal and restore. What must I do to be saved? Call on His Name and claim the forgiveness only He can provide. He is the true Life-giver who rewards those who diligently seek Him (Acts 16:31, John 6:68, Hebrews 11:6).

"For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”;
who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls." (1 Peter 2:21-25)

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