Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘suffering’

Final the End!

My younger sister and I used to argue a lot as kids.  But I got the upper hand when I convinced her that she had to stop whenever I said, “Final the End!” 

This silly memory came to mind the other day when I read the last chapters of the book of Revelation.  After all the atrocities, blasphemies, catastrophes, and devastation written in this book are finished, there will finally and forever be an end to all evil!  When the abominable “Babylon” is totally wiped out, the earth mourns and all in heaven rejoice (chapters 17-18).  Satan and his two puppets are banished forever to the “fiery lake of burning sulfur,” as are those who have give their allegiance to them.

Heaven finally reigns uncontested—and what a celebration!  Its citizens will at last participate in breathtaking splendor and joy. 

–A dazzling new heaven and earth

–No more tears, pain, or death! 

–Water of life, the tree of life

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. Sun And they will reign forever and ever.  (22:3-5)  

Where we will be then depends on whom we follow today. 

10 Commandments for Christ’s Ambassadors

As Jesus sent out his disciples on their first mission trip—to preach, heal, and cast out demons—He gave them these instructions.  But they are also for us today who represent Him to the world.  (See Matthew 10)

1.  Give and serve freely. (v. 8)

2.  Trust God for your needs. (v. 9-10)

3.  Focus on those who will listen. (v. 11-14)

4.  Be prepared to suffer. (v. 16-28)

5.  Trust the Holy Spirit for what to say when put on the spot. (v. 19)

6.  Don’t give up!  Endure to the end! (v. 22)

7.  Don’t be afraid. (v. 26-31)

8.  Never deny the Lord.  (v. 32-33)

9.  Prioritize God over your own family and even your own life. (v. 34-39)

10. Humbly accept what people give you as a gift to God. (v. 40-42)

Preparing for Persecution

This noon as I perused the news, I came across several articles where Christians are being persecuted—physically, economically, and verbally—in all parts of the world including the United States.  And it’s predicted to get worse.  A choice must be made:  One can either give up the faith, give in to fear, or give oneself over in trust and loyalty to Christ no matter what

Then it was time for my husband and I to do our daily Greek review.  As we had stopped yesterday in the middle of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5, here is what “just happened” to be next:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for doing what God approves of.
The kingdom of heaven belongs to them.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! 
                                                     (Matthew 5:10-12a, God’s Word translation)

May God give me and all His children commitment and courage to hang in there, endure suffering, and receive the blessing and reward that await at the end of the course.

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Triumphant Travels

The Carnival Triumph was one non-triumphant ship.  But we are hearing amazing stories of how the passengers bonded together during their ordeal, how the crew stayed calm and served graciously under such difficult situations, and how some gathered for Bible studies during those dreary days.  How delightful to be reminded how God can turn tragedy into triumph for His own glory!

In my Bible reading I’m just up to the story (Acts 27) of another nautical nail-biter.  A ship full of people driven by a crazy storm for two weeks, so sick they couldn’t eat and despairing of ever seeing land again.  But God was there, too.  He assured Paul that he and all the other passengers would make it safely to land—and they did!

This same God is in my break-downs and storms as well as in the days of smooth sailing. Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you—neither terrified by the tempest nor drifting complacently into dangerous waters.

Maranatha!  Come, Lord Jesus!

Divine Irony

Job is a drama in at least three acts.  An irony where poor Job, as well as his friends, are totally oblivious of the real drama behind the scenes.

First (after Job is introduced), Satan shows up in God’s throne room and makes a bet with God that he can make Job sin.  God consents, confident that his model child, will not fail.  (I wonder, would God bet on me?) 

Then the curtains close on the heavenly stage and our attention is redirected to the earthly stage where Job is hit with one tragedy after another.  He endures days and nights of grief and suffering along with wave after wave of harangue from his so-called “friends.”  Everyone is sure that they are right, and here’s why:

1.  Job’s perspective:  a)  He knows he hasn’t sinned.  b)  Good people are not supposed to suffer.  c)  God is in control of all that happens.

Job’s conclusion:  God is being unjust, so Job desperately seeks an audience with Him.

2.  Job’s friends’ perspective:  a) Job is suffering.  b) Suffering is always the punishment for sin, just as prosperity is always the reward for righteousness.  c)  God is just.

Their conclusion:  Job has sinned and needs to repent.

3.  God’s perspective:  a)  Job is the model of righteousness.  b) God is both just and wise, but not limited to human standards.  c) His purpose is beyond the knowledge of  the humans.  Then in chapters 38-41, God blows them all away from a whirlwind with a tour of His magnificent power in creation.  No answers for the questions they asked–just He Himself!!! 

In the third main part of this drama, Job gets the prize!  He has endured and won.  He receives restored health, double his original wealth, and another whole family, including 3 gorgeous daughters. 

But most of all, God is vindicated. 

How can this story help me when I look at what’s happening to me, those I care about, my nation, and the world around me?  In Job’s darkness, his expression of hope shines all the brighter:

But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  (23:10)   Rainbow

When All Else Fails

Night is falling and the power is off, but I can draft a blog post as long as the computer battery holds up. And last week the water was off for a couple of days .  At times like these I give thanks for things I normally take for granted, including also Internet, food, air, health, freedom, and the list goes on.

I can manage without some of these things for a short time, especially when it’s temporary.  I’ve been very blessed to have lived in security and freedom, unlike so many who see no end to daily suffering from physical pain, deprivation, or oppression.

But—here’s the part I hate to think about, much less put in writing—how will I handle it if the time comes when it’s me in that position?  Jesus warned us of coming suffering and persecution, and why should I be exempt?  When that time comes, will I fall apart, or will I live in calm trust in the One who controls all?  The words of this song challenge me:

Am I a soldier of the cross, a follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own his cause or blush to speak His name?

Must I be carried to the skies on flowery beds of ease
While others fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas?

Sure I must fight if I would reign; Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain, supported by Thy word.

Two-point Perspective

My husband and I are the delighted owners of a new painting which is now gracing our living room wall. 

100_3202 - Copy

Not knowing much about art, I have no idea if this painting has “perspective,” but it did bring to mind a message we heard recently about how we should view our present realities of suffering and frustration, death and decay. (Romans 8:18-23)

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.

The two points from which we get proper perspective are the Cross (past) and Glory (future).  Then all the present, in-between stuff falls into proper place. 

As the Israelites looked back on the Exodus from Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea as their reference point, we look back to the Cross as our point of deliverance and identity.  And as they looked beyond their wilderness wanderings to being at home in their own beautiful land, we look ahead to a home in heaven.  That perspective helps me make sense of today—and tomorrow—and the next day.

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