Sunday, February 22, 2009

Consider Jesus

I had the precious opportunity to go on a retreat with women from my church this weekend, and while there I found myself reflecting on some things I have felt God impressing upon me over the past couple of months.

Things like how He sees the big picture of my life, and I do not.

Things like how everything that happens in my life is good because it has been ordained by my loving and sovereign God.

It would be easy to read (or type) that sentence and then rush on, but don't. Stop and ponder it for a moment. It's really quite challenging to believe. Seriously. Everything? EVERYthing?

Suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience. Some seem to have more than their "fair share," but really, we all experience it. I don't know what my future holds, but I feel like I can say with a strong degree of certainty that it will contain some joy and some pain. Life always does.

So, why? Why does God allow us to suffer? The short answer is so that He can be glorified in us. Our speaker this weekend (Ann) told us the story of how she had endured several trials in her own life, including her father being murdered many years ago. She said that during a sort of "crisis of faith" (haven't we all had them at some level?), someone used this illustration: he said to picture God going before you in your life with a giant shield. Sometimes he moves it aside and lets things pass because He knows they will be good for us. "This will make Ann more like Me, I'll let that one through." "This will draw Ann closer to me." "I'll use this to reveal myself to Ann."

I like that image of God's giant shield over my life.

Of course, I have no idea of all the things God has shielded me from, the things He has not allowed to pass through, but I'm keenly aware of the things He has let pass. The sufferings. The challenges. The painful experiences. The frightening circumstances. What to make of those? Why does He let those pass?

During some quiet time this weekend, I sat down to read four scripture verses that Ann had referenced. The first was Hebrews 1:3, and I told her later that I never made it to the other three, because I couldn't get out of Hebrews.

This is what Hebrews 2:10 says (emphasis and parenthetical content mine): "It was fitting for Him (God) . . . to perfect the author of their salvation (Christ) through sufferings."

Wow. If God found it fitting to perfect Christ through suffering, who am I that I should be shielded from it? Who am I to question its purpose in my life?

I kept reading into chapter three. "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession." (Heb. 3:1)

Did you notice those two crucial words? "Consider Jesus."

In how many circumstances can those words apply?

As I try to reach the other side of my desert of doubt . . . consider Jesus.

When pain and suffering are my companions . . . consider Jesus.

When I am tempted to stumble . . . consider Jesus.

When I am filled with grief and despair . . . consider Jesus.

As I live in a fallen world among people I sometimes find difficult to love . . . consider Jesus.

When I struggle to forgive . . . consider Jesus.

What a precious gift of Grace that God gave us a Savior who "was made like His brethren in all things." (Heb. 1:17, emphasis mine) He has walked in my shoes. He has felt what I feel. He has rejoiced and mourned and yearned and even questioned.

Consider Jesus.

As David and I embark on this next leg of our journey - moving to PA and becoming self-employed - we do not know what the future will hold for us. Right now it does not look as if it will involve an immediate resounding success. As I was talking with a friend this weekend and explaining how, despite the the doubt-inducing circumstances around us, neither of us truly questions whether this is the right thing to do - how David and I both have strong peace that this is where the Lord is leading us - I found myself saying this: "I know that God is not leading us to Pennsylvania to starve to death."

As soon as the words left my mouth, I realized they were wrong. I do not know that at all.

Of course, realistically I don't think there's much chance that we will literally starve (or freeze!) to death, but the fact remains; I do not know. But, this much I do know: God is sovereign, and He has a purpose for everything that He allows in my life. If through some unlikely turn of events, we were to starve to death, God would be glorified. His purposes will not be thwarted, and all that He ordains for me is good.

If I do suffer and die, I'm in good company. Consider Jesus.

No comments: