Posted on Thu, Feb 28, 2019
Pastor Bob Norton
I’m learning to embrace suffering in my ministry. Why not? Jesus’ ministry was not all fun and games. He knew His mission (Isaiah 61:1-3). He brought us eternal life (John 3:16), but at times He was treated like an Amway salesman. The people were fickle. They wanted miracles without obedience. And eventually they murdered Him on a criminal’s cross. The Lord of life humiliated. So why should I whine when people are so selfish and apathetic? “Count it all joy when you go through trials of various kinds…” (James 1:2). I’m working on it. Jesus was the Man of Joy. He didn’t settle for happiness. Happiness comes when everything is going right in your life. Joy goes deeper. Joy happens when the roots of your soul are grounded in the fertile soil of God’s love. God’s love is unconditional. Nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39). So, joy can be your spiritual reality even on the worst of days. Jesus was also a Man of suffering and familiar with pain (Isaiah 53:3). He was despised and rejected. Jesus brought healing, but the people wanted more. They wanted Jesus to be their lucky rabbit’s foot, their Jeannie in the bottle to fulfill their every wish, their cosmic bellhop to bear every burden, their free lunch. Discipleship? Following Jesus during hard times? No thank you. And they left (John 6). Only the disciples stuck around saying, “Only you, Jesus, have the words of life.” Do we stick around or do we leave drifting away because Jesus doesn’t fulfill our every heart’s desire? One man came to Jesus wanting help for his son. “If you can help me…” Jesus responded, “If I can help you…where’s your faith?” “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Many of us can relate to this man’s waffling. He sort-of believed. “If you produce, Jesus, I’ll believe…otherwise, I’m out of here!” Another time, ten lepers were healed. Only one returned to say thank you. And he was a hated ethnic minority person. Yet he was the one with a grateful heart. Nine religious guys were healed and took it for granted, not even having enough integrity to return to give thanks. Jesus suffered. The people were fickle. In contemporary sports, when coaches win the fans love them, but when they lose the fans say some very hateful things and demand a new coach. As a coach, if you don’t win…you’re history. Jesus knew the feeling. Who killed Jesus? Did the Jews? Did the Romans? No, you did, and I did. When Mel Gibson directed The Passion of the Christ he characteristically wrote himself into a cameo role in the epic film. When the cameras filmed a closeup of the hands of the Roman soldier nailing Jesus to the Cross, those hands were the hands of Mel Gibson. He wanted the world to know that the sins of Mel Gibson put Jesus on the Cross. And he wanted us to know that our sins put Jesus on the Cross. We killed Him and yet He loves us nonetheless. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). I’m encouraged. If Jesus can be the Man of Joy and also a Man of sorrows acquainted with grief, then following Him will empower me to embrace suffering in the midst of my ministry. I’ve decided to follow Jesus, no matter what
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