Sorrowful, Yet Always Rejoicing, Filling Up What Is Lacking in Christ's Afflictions
See linked video first.
This is a most excellent teaching on the place of adversity and suffering in our lives, chiefly in mission field which John Piper addresses, but there are parallels in any life and calling, including difficult circumstances, marriages, and personalities every day. It’s important, as those who follow Christ, to see difficulties in this way, as we share in the sufferings of Christ.
As a beautiful song says, we share in His incarnation. His power is the “witness” through us, as the fruit of the Spirit grows, as we yield ourselves to Him.
So many do not understand this as the narrow way of the Cross. We are, as John Piper points out later in the video, sorrowful yet always rejoicing. This is the witness to God’s power, whether great or small, abroad or right at home. The Way is through the Cross.
A few passages came to mind as well, and I pray you will take the time meditate on them, let the Holy Spirit speak to you through them, and take them to heart. Col 1:24. Heb 12:2. Mt 16:24. 1 Pet 4:1,2. Mt 10:38. Lk 9:23-27. Mk 8:34,35. Acts 14:22. 1 Thes 3:3. Rev 12:11. Jn 12:25. Rom 8:18-39. (Hope I got all those right…)
There were two women to whom fell the lot of caring for their elderly parents. The one lovingly embraced this cross, over many years, with a tenderness and grace that touched the heart with her fervency, dedication, and sincere loving selflessness. This woman did not claim to be a Christian.
The other complained often of what the Lord gave her to do, bringing the focus to herself of her own discomforts, and expressing that she wished she were somewhere else. The latter, while she did what she had to and was not neglectful, seemed resentful, yet made a fuss of being a Christian.
The difference was the embrace of the task versus a grin and bear it attitude. Which would one rather have as a caregiver in old age?
Who is the better witness? Does the fruit of the Spirit manifest Jesus through someone who has “right belief”? Or the one who does what is right with a loving heart? I guess I will leave the conclusion up to God.
Christian life consists mainly of the witness of how we handle adversity. Because this world is a place of many sorrows. And looking on are not only our human contemporaries, but a great “cloud of witnesses.”
Hebrews 12:1,2. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. 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.”
People disappoint us, and we think it’s about fixing our circumstances, or fixing someone else, because they irritate and/or embarrass us. The thing is to not just grin and bear it, but to embrace it, and whatever we do then, it is all to the glory of God. And we let God take over, without fussing or fixing.
It is given to us to see our Lord in our everyday life, as we participate in and with Him, sharing His incarnation, sharing His suffering. This is the cross. This is martyrdom - the witness - of an ordinary kind, in which the majority of us are involved on an everyday level.
Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.
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