Romans 8:18 (KJV) “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
Last week we discussed…
As I experienced “life” in the “light” of Scripture, I’ve learned that Pain produces …
This week… As I experienced “life” in the “light” of Scripture, I’ve learned that Pain produces …
The core value of our faith is…
John 1:14 (KJV) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Emphasis Added).
We know that the Word, the Eternal Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, became the Man, Christ Jesus primarily to “seek and to save that which is lost.” Nonetheless, in His mission, Jesus came also to give “grace and truth” to those who would receive them!
There is an interesting aspect to “Grace” that is often overlooked, or not understood. While “Grace” is the unmerited favor of God extended to undeserving, lost mankind, “Grace” cannot be extended without the One Who is extending it being aware He is doing so. For the One giving it, it is intentional with the knowledge that it is needed and the benefit it will provide. For the one receiving it, when its true merits are realized, a deep sense of relief and healing results.
While “Grace” is unmerited – it is intentional. Let me restate the principle, “Grace cannot be given without the Provider being aware He is doing so AND for what purpose He is providing it!” Such was the case with God, and such was the case with the Man, Christ Jesus…
Hebrews 2:17-18 (KJV) “Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Emphasis Added).
YES, Jesus came into this world as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world! Praise God! BUT He also came to experience the pain and peril that sinful mankind experiences! In doing this, Jesus became a more effective Intercessor because He can “feel with” those who are suffering and extend the consequent empathy that brings the greatest comfort. Therefore…
Hebrews 4:14-16 (KJV) “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Emphasis Added).
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was immediately comforted by Jesus when He said, “Do you trust Me to go through this with you?” His Words were those of One Who truly understood what I felt and gave great consolation and courage as I approached the process of treatment. My “sensing” was – Jesus had BEEN there before!
The Lord provided another significant consolation through the doctor that diagnosed my condition. When Merlene and I sat with him to consider the course of treatment available, it was comforting to hear him say, “I went through this before with my father. I will NOT tell you which course to take because I offered advice to my father and I wish I hadn’t! BUT I believe you chose the proper course – I wish I had advised my father to do the same.” The doctor was expressing both regret and hope! You may find this confusing; but Jesus used this to reinforce that He was with me and was guiding my decisions through a man who had “been there before!”
Like Jesus, God uses our experience of “Pain” so that we can better identify with others who are suffering and more effectively minister His “Grace” to them. To help in appreciating this principle, let us consider Calvary…
Luke 23:39-43 (KJV) “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Emphasis Added).
Never was “Grace” more on display than at Calvary! Jesus was IN the “same condemnation” as the two thieves. Jesus was going through the same “Pain” as they; BUT He continued to give consolation. As we review Luke’s account, we take notice that the thief that called to Jesus for forgiveness first heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!”
I’ve always taught that Jesus was calling upon His Father to forgive everyone responsible for placing Him on the Cross of Calvary. Today, I believe He was speaking of forgiving these two men, who being in the same “condemnation,” were mocking Him. As Jesus manifested His Father’s “Grace,” one of the thieves “came to himself,” repented, and received the consolation that Jesus offered. This could only happen because Jesus had “been there before!”
God made a promise to Israel – the same promise flows to us who are “heirs of the same promise through faith” …
Isaiah 66:13 (KJV) “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Emphasis Added).
Referring back to the beginning of today’s discussion, John 1:14 (KJV) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Emphasis Added). REAL comfort is made manifest by One Who has “been there before!”
T. Forsyth said, “You must live with people to know their problems and live with God in order to solve them.” This is exactly what Jesus did! Because of this, God made His comfort more personal, practical, and powerful through His Son!
The “Pain” that God allows produces the Compassion of Christ within us. As we grow in “Grace” and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, we continue to walk in brokenness, being “Pruned” by the Husbandman, and sharing the comfort of God with others in the same way are comforted.
2 Corinthians 1:4 (KJV) “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (Emphasis Added).
God didn’t create “Pain,” it is the consequence of a sinful choice. When I state that God “allows” something, it does not mean He agrees with it or affirms it. BUT, because He is sovereign, He redeems all that He “allows!” That’s “The Promise of Pain!”
Amidst the “Pain,” let us remind ourselves that our lives are like an opera – a song to God. There is always an intermission in every quality opera. Our lives are the “1st Act,” the best comes after the intermission. Because God is sovereign, He can turn a “Lions’ Den” into a living room. When I see Daniel, I want to ask him how he felt when God stopped the lions from eating him. I anticipate he will say, “It was the safest I felt in Babylon. A man doesn’t have much to fear when lions are keeping watch through the night!”
Amidst the “Pain,” let us remind ourselves that we are never alone in the “furnace of affliction.” When I get to heaven, I want to sit down with the 3 Hebrew children and ask them how they felt when they saw someone like the “Son of God” with them in the flames! I suspect they will say, “You ought to know, He was with you in yours!”
When we are in “Pain,” let us do our utmost to get our eyes off the “Pain,” and look around and “see” the “Promise of Pain!” His name is Jesus!!
God Turns Our Lives Into Things of Beauty
Over a hundred years ago, in a Scottish seaside inn, a group of fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid was walking past the fishermen’s table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand collided with the teapot and sent it crashing against the whitewashed wall, where its contents left an irregular brown splotch.
Standing nearby, the innkeeper surveyed the damage. “That stain will never come out,” he said in dismay. “The whole wall will have to be repainted.” “Perhaps not.” All eyes turned to the stranger who had just spoken. “What do you mean?” asked the innkeeper. “Let me work with the stain,” said the stranger, standing up from his table in the corner. “If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.”
The stranger picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and swashes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea had been turned into the image of a stag with a magnificent rack of antlers. At the bottom of the picture, the man inscribed his signature. Then he paid for his meal and left.
The innkeeper was stunned when he examined the wall. “Do you know who that man was?” he said in amazement. “The signature reads ‘E.H. Landseer!'” Indeed, they had been visited by the well-known painter of wild life, Sir Edwin Landseer. God wants to take the stains and disappointments of our lives and not merely erase them, but rather turn them into a thing of beauty. — Ron Lee Davis, Mistreated