Ponder the Pain

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!” – (Matthew 20:17-19, NIV)

Jesus was going to Jerusalem. His twelve followers were with Him. While they were walking, He gathered the followers together and spoke to them privately. He said to them, “We are going to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the leading priests and the teachers of the law, and they will say He must die. They will hand Him over to the foreigners, who will laugh at Him and beat Him with whips, and then they will kill Him on a cross. But on the third day after His death, He will be raised to life again.” – (Matthew 20:17-19, ERV)

 

As I opened my Bible application to read the passage for today, I was taken aback as I realized our nearness to Easter, and the significance of the passage presented. It has taken all of my fortitude to simply keep current on what day of the week it is, and recognize which particular date corresponds on the calendar, (with loads of helpful reminders from modern technology) let alone look further forward than a day or two. This passage, however, jolted my head and heart back to the reality of the sacred remembrance of this season. Jesus boldly and willingly went to Jerusalem, knowing what stood before Him. The love within Him was far greater than the human desire to detour away from pain and suffering. Jesus chose the agonizing road, so that we could have life, light, hope, love and freedom in Him. I imagine the days leading up to the cross seemed agonizingly long. He knew what He had to do, yet He could not stop preparing and living and loving, leading up to that point in time, when all of the sin, shame and suffering of the world would be His to bear on our behalf. There are a million directions my mind could go when I ponder the pain He endured for me. This morning, my thought is simply that if He could continue in living and loving, knowing that He would have to endure so much suffering; how much more ought we choose to live and love with hope, knowing that our present circumstances will not remain as they are forever. Though we do not know the end date, and have disappointments and losses and reasons to grieve, we also have reason to live and love and spread hope through extending the very same kindness that Christ has granted to us. May we take pause and ponder the purpose of this season, as we observe new life sprouting and taking root all around us. He is risen, and hope is here.

 

Even in darkness,DSC00009

Light finds its way in;

Buds begin blooming,

As springtime begins.

In our rough seasons,

We are not alone;

Christ’s gone before us,

Each pain He has known.

And just when darkness,

Seemed it would not end;

His death on the cross,

Then He rose again…

From out of the grave,

Three days He had lain;

Christ resurrected,

Hope rose once again.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You came and chose the painful road on our behalf, because You love so deeply. Thank You that Your life, death and resurrection made the way for life, hope and love for us all. Forgive us for allowing our present darkness to overshadow the light of all that You have done and continue to do for us and in us. Show us how to love those around us in ways that offer love, light, life and hope in the same way that You do for us. May many come into a lasting relationship with You. Be glorified O God, as we praise You for the incredible sacrifice that You made on our behalf, and the love that carried You down that difficult road. Amen.

 

© Shannon Elizabeth Grabrick and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present

 

So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him. – Hebrews 9:28

Exaltation in Everything

Acts 16 unearths yet another story of perseverance in the face of adversity. Paul and Silas had just had an encounter with a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. Through their time with her, Paul commanded the spirit leave her, and thus ended her ability to make money for her owner. The slave owner was so enraged at the two disciples, that he had them dragged to the marketplace to face authorities, then brought them before the magistrates, which resulted in the public stripping and beating of the faithful followers of Christ. After they had been flogged, Paul and Silas were thrown in maximum security prison, despite being peaceful men. Considering the agony they had likely endured, most would have been whimpering in a corner of the cell. However, not the case with these two. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. – (Acts 16:25) Their choice to persevere, even in the face of difficulty, opposition and discouragement, ultimately led to the salvation of the jailer and his entire household.

 

As we act in obedience to the Lord, people take notice. Some may take offense. Others may even oppose us, creating difficulty and becoming a discouragement. However, there are others still, who observe what we do in spite of difficulty. They are acutely aware of our faithfulness in the face of adversity, and begin to ask questions. Those very questions are the same sort that lead the jailer and his household into the eternal Kingdom of Christ. Regardless of what obstacles or challenges come our way, may we maintain an attitude as Paul and Silas did – hearts that pray and sing praise, in spite of what we face.

 

May we choose to pray,Exaltation in Everything

and sing songs of praise;

no matter what comes,

for all of our days.

The choice that we choose,

is noticed and seen;

we are a witness,

to our God unseen.

In opposition,

challenge and trial;

let us still seek Him,

His peace is worthwhile.

May our place of hope,

be clearly displayed;

for in Christ alone,

there shall be a way.

 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for the countless examples of the faithful who have gone before us. Thank You that You have so clearly demonstrated time and time again, how You love and encourage and remain present, even in the face of difficulties. Thank You that though You do not remove all trials and obstacles, You remain present, and You use our experiences to strengthen us and to demonstrate Your faithfulness to those around us. Forgive us for our shortsightedness, and help us to recognize that You will use all things for Your ultimate good, in due time, if only we trust in You. Teach us to trust You more, especially in the throes of adversity. Grant us strength to persevere, so that we may praise You in spite of what we are going through. May many come to know the glorious gift that You are, as we trust You in the trials. Help us to love as You so lavishly love each of us. Be glorified, O God, as we persevere with praise. Amen.

© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.

May God Almighty grant you mercy. – Genesis 43:14