Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Give Me That Old Time Religion"1 (Lyrics)
When I was growing up, I had my share of scraped knees and stubbed toes. My mom lovingly soothed my childhood injuries, though the sting of mercurochrome was sometimes worse than the original scrape. Cuts and scrapes are a normal part of growing up. On a more philosophical level, I've had plenty of ups and downs in my adult life as well. Hurts, disappointments, hardships, reversals, and challenges are all part of the bundle of life.
Long before His crucifixion, Jesus knew that indescribable pain and suffering lay ahead of Him. He could have allowed dread of the future to diminish the purpose and value of His daily ministry. Yet He knew that, though He could have bypassed His coming suffering, it was essential to fulfilling His purpose for coming to earth — dying as the divine substitute for the sins of the world. He knew that His hour of suffering had been prophesied centuries before, and that the steps leading up to His crucifixion had to be taken in order to fulfill prophecy. Well-meaning Peter tried to prevent His death:
Matthew 26:52-54 – "Put away your sword," Jesus told him. "Those using swords will get killed. Don't you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what is happening now?" (TLB)
Even before Jesus' crucifixion, the devil (arrogant fool that he is!), when tempting Him in the wilderness, had offered to deliver Jesus from harm. Jesus rebuked the devil, refusing any supernatural — even hypothetical — way around personal harm or danger.
Luke 4:9-12 – Then Satan took him to Jerusalem to a high roof of the Temple and said, "If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say that God will send his angels to guard you and to keep you from crashing to the pavement below!" Jesus replied, "The Scriptures also say, 'Do not put the Lord your God to a foolish test.'" (TLB)
Jesus understood and accepted trials and temptations as necessary parts of His redemptive work. We also should be willing to bear up under hardship, knowing that it is given to us for a purpose. It may be in order to help to strengthen us in our walk of faith. It may be as a means of serving as an example to others, showing how God can give power to endure. It may be simply an act of submission to God, trusting His work in our lives.
To think about: How can (or will) we accept trouble and pain, knowing that God will carry us through difficult times?
Prayer: Dear loving, heavenly Father, we know that You have a reason or purpose — often hidden to us — for everything that You bring into our life, whether we think that it is good or bad. May we willingly accept Your trials along with Your blessings. Amen.