It’s interesting sometimes how God brings people through and into our lives to give us a different perspective. That’s how it’s been for me lately. I think I mentioned before that I am a member on a website devoted to corporate prayer. The interesting thing about these sites is how broken people in need come together from all races, all ethnic groups, and all walks of life to ask for prayer and to pray for others. It’s through that site that I met a sister in Christ who over time of sharing of herself as well as a little about her husband and family triggered something inside of me to really have a more full picture of God’s perfect love.
This wonderful woman had, for the most part, until this point always known prosperity, provision, peace, joy, devotion, loyalty and happiness. She had always known the tender, gentle, kind, exquisite love that we all desire in our lives. This is a contrast from the rejection, betrayal, neglect, bullying, hardship, struggle, loneliness, and depression from my own life. As I contrasted the two one morning after waking up to an email from her reaching out for prayer something struck me, like God was putting together the pieces of the puzzle that He has placed in all of our lives. A beautiful and striking picture of the pure, complete, and exquisite love that He wants to show that He feels towards us.
Whatever you are suffering today, I want to show you a picture of God’s love that most of us have heard but never really listened to. In my own feeble and inept way through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration I want to try to portray why we should be reminded of God’s love even when we’re in pain and enduring suffering.
We have to remember that God is eternal. As He told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex 3:14) and all throughout the bible we see glimpses of a God eternal who always was, is, and always will be. Why then did God create us? (Colossians 1:16) says “all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him.” Also, we seen in (Revelation 4:11) “You created all things, and because of Your will they exist, and were created and brought into being.” It is for this reason that we can see a glimpse that God created us for His pleasure and because He wanted to. As we read in Genesis we see that God walked through the garden with Adam and Eve up until they disobeyed and broke the perfection of their relationship with God through sin. Throughout the old testament we see God get so angry and so distraught at this creation called “mankind” that He created to love and to love Him that He almost destroyed man altogether. Yet, He saved man and gave us a second chance after the flood. Once again, we returned to sin and because of His undying love for us He had to find a better way to show us His love and to give us a way to be reconciled with Himself. This is where He shows His perfect love and when we really look and listen we can see and hear that our pain is a reminder of God’s love for us.
How does this story begin? John 3:16 & 17 tell us in part; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son… For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” What angst could we derive from a Father sending His beloved one and only Son to a wretched place as this sin filled world? Even then, He could have sent His Son as royalty or He could have sent Him to the wealthy. However, He decided to show us His amazing love for us through suffering and pain. Luke 2:7 shows us that Mary; “gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” First off, having grown up on a farm I have to say that most people’s idea of a stable is pretty glamorous. The reality is that this would be a dirty and stinky place with animals and their poop (dung) and urine everywhere, mud, and straw all mixed together with spoiled grain and other food in a cold, wet, bug infested corner of a barn or cave. Now that you have a better picture… God, let me say that again, GOD in the form of a baby was born wrapped in the same type strips of cloth as used for burial and laid in a feeding trough. Upon His entry to the world God’s Son, the Second person of the Trinity, was rejected from the Inn, born in a nasty cold stinky stable, wrapped in grave cloths and laid in a feeding trough. That in and of itself should give us some perspective on our daily troubles.
As we go on through Jesus’ ministry we see some other interesting traits. “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20) In essence Jesus was homeless and a wanderer. In the reference we see that obviously the disciples were hungry; “and as they went His disciples began to pluck the heads of grain.” (Mark 2:23) This is of note even further because it was the Sabbath when they weren’t supposed to “work” at all. It even provoked the church leaders… Again, we see a taste of the daily lives of Jesus and the disciples as Jesus is rejected in his own hometown (Mark 6:1-6) and then when He sends out the twelve apostles He sends them out with nothing but the clothes on their backs. (Mark 6:8-11)
Even those experiences don’t begin to show us the depth of God’s love shown through Christ Jesus at the end of His ministry here. Even with our finite human brains when we read about Jesus’ arrest, how He was handled, and His death we can see a great deal of physical torment. Please read these two chapters using the links to the Amplified Bible for a little extra detail (Matthew 27), (Mark 15). Let’s think for a minute about our shame, our conviction of our own sin even as imperfect sinful people. Jesus is the perfect Son of the Living Most High God, He IS God. He bore every person’s sin who has ever been born and who will ever be born, while being mocked and ridiculed by those very people, His Father God had to look away from Him because of that sin, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”” (Matthew 27:46) And Christ Jesus our Lord took my sin and your sin along with the sins of the world, from the beginning to it’s end, to the depths of hell to pay their debt. He arose on the third day to give us a chance to be reconciled with God.
As I close, I set forth this challenge to you. Think about the agony and the suffering of Christ from His birth to His death God Himself was made low, suffered, and endured pain the likes of which we will never have to endure. Glory to God in the Highest, all praise and honor to Him! After thinking about this, what perspective does that put on your hardship and pain? What does that speak of your endurance? And what does that say about God’s perfect love for us?
Maybe we are suffering because this is a broken and evil world, maybe some of it is because of our own sin, or maybe just maybe God wants us to experience the complete taste of what love really is all about. “[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Glorious Most High God, we come to You a sinful and broken people. We humbly ask Your forgiveness and thank You for sending Your Holy Pure Son Jesus as our Redeemer and Savior. You are our God and King, it is in You that we place our trust. Help us to see and to know that our suffering no matter how bad it is in our eyes is nothing compared to what You have already experienced for us to allow us to be reconciled with You. We love You and we thank You and praise Your Glorious Name. Even in our suffering show us Your tender compassion, goodness, and unending love. We humbly come to you, made clean by the suffering and the blood shed by our glorious risen Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!