Standing Firm

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:14-16)

What a lesson for us to learn here! Jesus, knowing that this Passover would be a prologue to His suffering, set His heart upon this pleasant event with His closest companions. Knowing full well what He was about to experience, Jesus kept His focus on the fact that His future suffering was necessary for man’s redemption and for His Father’s glory. Suffering is oftentimes the prelude to glory.

“Shall we be backward in any service for him who was so forward in the work of our salvation?” -Matthew Henry
Oh if we all could only look at life through those lenses! We must not scorn the pain, the hard work, the trial, the obstacle. Rather, we must seek to see what God will produce in and through us. As we embrace our circumstances with joy, by focusing on what it will inevitably produce, we bring God much glory. We must never forget that Jesus chose to die for us, because of the outcome His actions would accomplish.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

Pain is pain. We should never marginalize or minimize others afflictions. I remember once being told when I was going through a rather trying time that at least I was not in a concentration camp! I don’t know your pain tolerance, but being one notch better off than a concentration camp experience brought me little, if any, comfort. The promise of Scripture, on the other hand, brought peace to my troubled soul. Paul’s words in Romans reverberated in my weary spirit:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:28-30)

All things are not good; rather God works all things for our good. There is a huge difference between those two statements! The cross was not good, but what God worked by that action was extremely good–the salvation of mankind!

All of our works will one day be tested by fire. Everything done apart from God’s will goes up in smoke:

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15)

Our goal as believers in Jesus is what Epaphras prayed for the church at Colosse:

Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. (Colossians 4:12)

Take It to Heart

“A depressed, dejected, dispirited believer is a poor recommendation for the Christian faith. We’re to be hopeful people–optimists–who have grasped the reality of Romans 8:28 and its guarantee of God’s all-encompassing providence over the lives of His children.” (Robert Morgan)

Standing firm and fully assured even when the winds of trial and dire circumstances are blowing is a mark of a mature Christian. It is also a mark of one who brings God much glory. It is easy to be “on fire” when circumstances are favorable, but let a little rain fall on our parade and we are often found wallowing in self pity, groaning and complaining. How much better for us to season our lives with the spices of contentment and joy rather than to harbor bitterness and resentment which will corrode our vessels like acid.