It is hard to cling to hope when all you see is tragedy.
I have seen families fall apart. I have seen children rebel. I have seen illness ravage a home. I have seen sin ravage a home.
If I didn’t love Jesus, any of those things would break me; just the knowledge of them is hard enough to bear.
But I do love Jesus.
The world cannot break me because I have already been broken before my Savior. I have confessed my sin and desperate need for Him, and He answered me, let me into His fold, and continues to draw me nearer to Himself.
The reason the world is not perfect (the reason families fall apart, children rebel, and illness and sin ravage a home) is because so many people are clinging to this world rather than to Christ. So many people choose to live an existence contrary to the commands of God.
Of course, strong Christians can die of terrible illnesses and young Christians can die for no particular reason at all, but their deaths do not have to ravage a home.
The sorrow we feel in the face of hardship is real, but it is not eternal, and it should not dominate our lives. I am not telling you not to cry or be sad. Almost every week, I cry a few times, and there are times when I have been sad, whether for a good reason or not. However, every time my spirit is heavy, I choose to place my burdens and my tears at the foot of the cross; committing those things to the refining power of the Holy Spirit.
So, prayer never stops, faith never stops, even if tears fall, even if the world crumbles, and even if prayers go unanswered.
If I didn’t love Jesus, this world would break me, but because I love Jesus, sadness, darkness, and sorrow have no power over me.
But how can Jesus do it? How can He rescue, heal, and restore? How can He take this mess and turn it into something beautiful?
Most of the time, I have no idea how He does it. But by the grace of God, I have an idea today.
If you are familiar with the Gospels, then you know what Jesus suffered… and I am not talking about the crucifixion.
Jesus had to wait a long time before He could enter His earthly ministry. His earliest, and apparently his first, miracle occurred in Cana, but it seems that He performed no other miracles until His ministry began.
During His time of waiting, He may have witnessed close friends or family members, die or suffer from illness, yet He did not heal them or bring them back to life. He had the power to heal and bring His loved ones back from the dead, he had the power to keep everyone close to Him from dying, and He even had the power to keep Himself from dying. There may have been times where He cried out to God, asking Him if it would be okay to heal someone or bring them back to life, and He did pray that His own life would be spared, but He always submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father, even unto death.
Jesus performed so many miracles during His life – too many to be recorded or numbered – but the emphasis was never supposed to be on the miracles. There were some places where Jesus did not perform any (or many) miracles, because He did not see enough faith in those places.
Miracles were not meant to create faith or repentance, they resulted from faith. The whole purpose of Jesus’ ministry was to show the world that the Kingdom of God is at hand and that Kingdom is not of this world. As John the Baptist had preached before Jesus entered His ministry, repentance was necessary to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and Jesus built onto that message, preaching that repentance and a little faith could save a soul.
There are a few stories in the Gospels where people came to Jesus, wanting to be healed from obvious illnesses, but Jesus would ask them, “What would you have me do for you?” He wanted an answer. He wanted vocal evidence that they believed He could heal them. There were also times when people wanted healing from obvious ailments, but Jesus would first say, “Your sins are forgiven you.”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus placed an emphasis on the inward man, on the change that must begin at the soul level, on what no man could see. He confronted the religious leaders of the day on multiple occasions, pointing out their hypocrisy, because they worried so much about looking good on the outside and doing the right thing, but their souls were dark, dirty, and not in love with God at all. They needed healing of the soul, but didn’t want it.
A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah. (Matthew 16:4)
In the verse above, Jesus said that the one sign, the one miracle, this generation would be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Jonah was in the belly of a big fish for three days and three nights, and he somehow survived, preached repentance to a sinful city, and watched that city receive grace from God. Jonah unlike Jesus in so many way, but they were both “buried in the deep” for three days. Only, Jesus went into the earth out of obedience to His Father and Jonah was receiving his just reward for running away from God. Jesus suffered and died, so that He could tear apart the veil between God and man, and He rose again to give victory over death and hell to all those who call upon His name.
If the wicked and adulterous could not believe in that sign, where God became man and suffered on our behalf, where tragedy was flooded with light, then no other sign would be given them.
Through His death, Jesus transformed sorrow into rejoicing. He came back to life and brought a deeper meaning to what He said in John 3:16; For God so loved the world that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That verse was not talking about the death of the body, as though anyone who believes in Jesus would never physically suffer or die, but their eternal soul would be bound fast to the Son and brought through the gates of Heaven.
Do you want to know how Jesus can heal, restore, and bring something wonderful out of a terrible situation?
First, He lived, then He died, and finally, He came back to life.
If you believe this. If you believe that Jesus did all this for the sake of your eternal soul, then He has given you eternal life.
You make known to me the path of life. In Your presence, there is fullness of joy. At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
It is that wonderful; that simple.
Though you were dead and suffering in the depth of your sins, Jesus pulled you out and placed His righteousness upon you. Your filthy rags of false righteousness have been traded in for robes of white.
Jesus is the hope that never dies.
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