TO LISTEN TO THE AUDIO VERSION OF THIS POST, CLICK HERE.

Is The Pain Worth The Gain?

I don’t understand suffering.  Let me put that out there first!  I love the thought of a world where there is no pain, no crying, no more death.  Is a world like that possible?  Yes!  That world is coming!  Jesus revealed it to John, and John faithfully recorded it, so we would hang on to the hope.  Jesus’ Words are True and can be Trusted!

Revelation 21:3-5 records John’s words,

And I heard a Loud Voice from the Throne, saying,

 “Look!  God’s dwelling place is now among the people, 

and He will dwell with them.  

They will be His People, 

and God Himself will be with them

 and be their God.

 

He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  

There will be no more death 

or mourning or crying or pain, 

for the old order of things has passed away.

 

He Who was seated on The Throne said,

 ‘I AM making everything new!’ 

Then He said, 

‘Write this down,

 for these Words are Trustworthy!’”

But, for now, there is pain, mourning and crying.  There were all those things on the Friday Jesus was crucified.  As I pondered Jesus’ crucifixion and the agony in the Garden the night before, I had to ask myself why anyone would deliberately sign on for great pain.  

Jesus knew what was to come.  He knew the Plan.  And yet, even as The Plan gave Him reasons to pause, He submitted to One Who made The Plan.  Jesus agreed to the pain.  What kind of person does that?

The answer came to me within a moment of the question.  Who does that?  Mothers!  Almost everyone who was ever pregnant knew in advance that the end/beginning point would involve pain.  Yet, they agreed anyway.  They looked past the pain to the gain.  They considered the Life they would bring into the world worth it.

 

 

Adam and Eve —Partners in Creation with God!

Genesis 3:16-20 details the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin in The Garden of Eden.  Some people believe God cursed Adam and Eve as punishment for their sins.  But it was not in God’s Nature to curse that which He had so lovingly created.  He said His Creation was good.

A misstep on their part, even a serious one, was not enough for God to curse them.   God could have eliminated earth’s first couple and just started over.  He could have chained them to the Tree of Life, just far enough away they could never reach it.  He could have done many other things that would have equaled torture.  But He didn’t.  God was true to His Nature and brought redemption to Adam and Eve. God made Adam and Eve partners in Creation with Him. 

Adam was put to farm the earth from which He had been created.  He had a perpetual reminder of Who had created him and How he had been created.  And now, he assisted God in bringing forth Life from the earth.

Eve also would be busy, bringing forth Life —human Life. It would take effort to bring forth Life on planet earth.  Eve would have to obey and to surrender her very body to the task.  And yes, she would have to endure pain.

 

 

The Process of Growth and Bringing Forth Life!

Creation takes time.  Nothing is created and birthed instantly.  Life in all forms continues to be birthed through patience, persistence, pushing against obstacles, and surrendering to a greater Life Force than we have the strength to provide.

I love the thought of being able to grow all the Fruits of The Spirit … except one.  Galatians 5:22-23 records,

But the Fruit of The Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, 

Long Suffering, 

Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, 

Gentleness, Self-control.    

Want to guess which one I don’t like?

I don’t like short suffering, much less long suffering!  James 1:2-4 records,

My brothers, 

count it all Joy when you fall into various trials, 

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  

But let patience have its perfect work, 

that you may be perfect and complete, 

lacking nothing!

I have not attained that level of trust where I count it all joy when I encounter trials.  And yet, I do realize, in retrospect, how much I learned when I was challenged.  Coming up against what seems like an immovable force allows us to flex our spiritual muscles.  As with our physical muscles, we may be weak at the beginning, but as we persevere in The One Who gives us strength and teaches us more and more what to do, we are made stronger!

Being restrained or opposed not only contributes to our “resistance training,” but it also holds us back until it is time.  I’ve always tended to be impatient.  When I knew that brightly colored Christmas present held the promise of something I was really going to love, I wanted to open it now, not wait until Christmas.

Knowing how beautiful the butterfly is going to be, it is tempting to dig it out of its cocoon now instead of waiting.  But if we did, we would find a mess in the process of being created, not a finished creation ready for the outside world.  The stretching of its developing wings prepares it for the world it is about to enter.

 

 

Suffering From The Outside In!

Suffering never looks good from the outside.  The beginning of a needle point project seems like repeated pokes of the needle and the pulling of the thread through the holes.  It does not look pretty, and if the cloth could talk to us, it would tell us it didn’t feel good either.

Sometimes our life seems like a series of painful pokes and someone pulling things through the holes.  When we look at our life, it may even seem like a jumble of threads that are not pretty.  But God is creating a tapestry that will be fully revealed when we can see the other side.

 

 

Partners With Jesus in Suffering and Glory!

Jesus suffered all the things we suffer.  He experienced it all as a human.  The betrayals, the denials by His Friend, the inability of His Friends to even stay awake with Him when He needed them most, grief at losing a friend, grief at trying so hard to save the lost and yet losing some anyway, real physical pain from torture.  Jesus knows what it is to be in your place.  Paul said it well, as recorded in Hebrews 4:15,

For we do not have a High Priest 

Who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,

 but we have One Who has been tempted in every way, 

just as we are — 

yet He did not sin.

Why did God reveal Himself to the world as a human?  Paul tells us why in Hebrews 2:10-11, which says,

In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, 

it was fitting that God, for Whom and through Whom 

everything exists,

 should make The Pioneer of their salvation 

perfect through what He suffered. 

 Both the one Who makes people holy

 and those Who are made holy 

are of the same family.  

So Jesus is not ashamed 

to call them brothers and sisters.

Verses 14 and 15 and 17-19 explain it further.

Since the children have flesh and blood, 

He too shared in their humanity 

so that by His Death, He might break the power of him

 who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — 

and free those 

who all their lives were held in slavery 

to their fear of death.

For this reason, He had to be made like them, 

fully human in every way, 

in order that He might become 

a Merciful and Faithful High Priest in service to God,

 and that He might make atonement 

for the sins of the people. 

 Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, 

He is able to help those who are being tempted.

 

 

Why Would God Do This?

He wanted us to know that He is God with us!  He wanted us to know that He is with us always, through every high and every low.  He wanted us to know we are together in Joy and Sorrow.  

John 14:20 reminds us of Jesus’ Words,

I AM in My Father, 

and you are in Me

 and I AM in you!

Was Jesus’ Purpose to let us know He was just one of the earth guys?  No!  He came to let us know we are part of the One!  Just as we share suffering, we will share in The Joy of His Glory!

1 Peter 4:13 records,

But rejoice inasmuch as 

you participate in the suffering of Christ,

 so that you may be overjoyed 

when His Glory is revealed!

1 Peter 5:10 records,

And The God of all Grace, 

Who called you to His Eternal Glory in Christ, 

after you have suffered a little while, 

will Himself restore you 

and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

Romans 8:17 records,

Now, if we are children, 

then we are Heirs — 

Heirs of God and Co-Heirs with Christ, 

if indeed we share in His sufferings 

in order that we may also share in His Glory!

 

 

This Is My Body Broken For You!

We define our boundaries, in part, by what we see of our body.  It is difficult to imagine ourselves as being real without what we believe is the whole of our human body.

Satan identified the attack of a human body as one of his greatest weapons.  Hear his chilling words from Job 2:4,

“Skin for skin!” satan replied. 

“A man will give all he has for his own life.”

Death is frightening to many because we fear if the outer body were stripped away, there would be nothing left … or perhaps worse, all our sins would be exposed.  

God has given us many examples that demonstrate life continues, even after the outer covering is taken away.  We peel fruit and discard the skin without thought.  We pop peanuts out of their shell and discard the shell.  We see butterflies exit their cocoons and never look back at their old covering.  Chicks never attempt to go back into their shells.

Even in the human body, there is evidence of this principle of God’s Creation.  The placenta that serves an important function for the developing baby is discarded when the baby no longer needs it.  And that skin that satan thought we would fight so hard for, is quietly being discarded on a regular basis by the human body.  Even in the time it takes you to read this post, you will have already lost many skin cells!  And there are already new ones in place, on the job!

Go back and read Hebrews 2:14, already quoted above,

… by His Death, He might break the power of him 

who holds the power of death — 

that is, the devil — 

and free those who all their lives were held in slavery

 by their fear of death.

Jesus gave us His Body to publicly show He was still very much alive even without the outer covering.  Satan could no longer boast that a man would give all he had for his own skin.  Jesus had freely given His Body, which had served Him well for the time He needed it, but was of no use to Him when it was time to enter the next phase of Life.

We are very much alive and very much ourselves in union with the One, whether wearing an earth body or a heavenly body!

 

 

The Day The Temple Was Opened To All!

Paul aptly observed with puzzlement that his followers had seemed to have missed that the purpose of their bodies was to house The Holy Spirit.  1 Corinthians 6:19 records,

Do you not know that your bodies are 

Temples of The Holy Spirit, Who is in you, 

Whom you have received from God?

Jesus’ Earthly Body was a Temple of The One of Whom He was a part! 

There were very specific rules about who could enter the temples in Jesus’ day.  Priests served as mediators between God and the people.  No common ordinary person could go in.  But, as we have noted, Jesus was a game changer.  He ended His Time in His Earth Body, not with a whimper, but with a shout!

He was beaten so badly prior to His crucifixion that it was said He was not even recognizable.  His Body was given freely and opened without protest.  His Precious Blood was given on what would be called Good Friday to those some would have called His Enemies.

As soldiers restrained Him, whipped Him and nailed Him, His Blood flowed onto their bodies, as healing atonement for their sins, even their sins committed against Him.  Matthew 27:50-51 records,

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud Voice, 

He gave up His Spirit.

 

At that Moment, 

the curtain of The Temple was torn in two, 

from top to bottom.  

The earth shook, the rocks split 

and the tombs broke open!

The cross of suffering is the back side of the Greatest Tapestry in history.  The front side is the picture of The Temple of The Holy Spirit, being opened wide for everyone who would enter in!

Easter morning would bring shouts of Joy from Jesus’ Followers.  But Good Friday was the day when those who were not Jesus’ Followers got a peek inside the Temple.

Matthew 27:54 records,

When the centurion 

and those with him, who were guarding Jesus,

 saw the earthquake and all that had happened, 

they were terrified, and exclaimed, 

“Surely He was The Son of God!”

 

 

Points to Ponder

Think back to times of suffering or if you are in the midst of a trial of suffering now, think about it.  Are you alone?  Where is The One?

Is it enough for you for The One to be with you, no matter what the outcome?

How important is your body to you?  Does your body define who you are?  Who are you without your human body?

Are you willing to allow your Temple to be used in any way God chooses to reveal His Presence, even to those you might not choose as worthy recipients of His Glory?

 

 

This Journey Is Not Yet Done!

NOTE:  As I have indicated in my earlier posting, writing about Jesus will not fit neatly into one season on a calendar.  So while Easter is here, these posts are not done!

There are more chapters to write and they will continue on this blog.  So please continue on the journey with me.  If the link is taken down from somewhere that has posted it as Lenten Devotionals, please stay with me by visiting

www.carolynpriesterjones.org

You can visit the blog site any time.  But if you want to be sure you don’t miss any of the posts, you may subscribe at the bottom of any post.  Any future posts will then be sent to the email you provide.

Many Blessings to you in Him, Who constantly reveals His Glory and loves you so much that He seeks you out to share That Glory with Him —

Carolyn Priester Jones

 

Floral Cross

 

About carolynpriesterjones

Follower of Jesus, Seeker of Truth, Commentator on Life, Light Bearer, Water Carrier, one of God’s Creations still under construction

Leave a Reply