There came down from Judaea a prophet named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s belt, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, “Thus says the Holy Ghost, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owns this belt, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”
And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.” – Acts 21:10-14
No one wants to die.
If a Christian leader were diagnosed with cancer that has a known treatment or cure, no one would expect them to sit back and take it. Everyone would expect them to ask for prayer and seek out the best treatments.
It is not a bad thing to pray for healing, seek out treatments, or to want to live another day. But it seems that every society, every age, desires healing of the body above healing of the heart; they want healing from God, but they don’t want the God of healing. They want an easy road, but they don’t want to think of their final destination; their eternal home.
In the passage quoted above, Paul was not dying of a terrible disease, but he was knowingly going into danger, and many knew they would never see him alive again. His friends wanted him to stay, but Paul would not allow his resolve to be shaken. He proclaimed that he was willing to be bound and to die for the name of the Lord Jesus; he was living out 2nd Corinthians 5:1-10:
For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven; if so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that has wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
Therefore, we are always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. (For we walk by faith, not by sight). We are confident, I say, and willing, rather, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad.
Paul was bound for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and he eventually died for his Savior, but along that rough road, he led many souls to the kingdom; souls that would not have heard the Gospel if not for his chains. Human hands made those chains, so their hold on him was only temporal. The people who were truly enslaved were those who sought to silence Paul; they were the ones in need of deliverance, healing, and restoration.
It was God’s will to use Paul’s chains for His Kingdom.
If we looked at life through the lens of temporal versus eternal, where pain and sorrow are temporal and the soul is eternal, then maybe we would not be afraid to say goodbye or to suffer pain and loss for the cause of Jesus Christ. There is a time to weep and a time to mourn, but at all times, whether we lay down or rise up, we must lean on the everlasting arms. Our home is not here. Our future cannot be contained by this world.
Therefore, our hope is sure and steadfast. (Hebrews 6)
I encourage you to pray for healing of the body, knowing that God does heal, but do not place your faith in healing; place your faith in God.
While we live, we are called to tell the world the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we serve as His ambassadors and soldiers, nothing we face will be void or without purpose, and we will never be abandoned. No matter how hard the road, no matter how lonely it may seem, we have a King Who stands with us and runs with us. With Jesus as our Savior, “Goodbye,” is really, “See you later.” A sacrifice for the Kingdom is just an exhaled breath that will return to us 100 fold in this life, and eternal life in the age to come. (Mark 10)
I wrote the above section for my church bulletin, which we call the Body Builder. Though some people at my church may assume I wrote it because a few of our families are moving away, the real reason is that I want to be like Paul. If I were diagnosed with an inoperable disease, I want to be able to rest in Jesus, knowing that He takes care of me and those I leave behind. I imagine that I would be content to go home, but I need to do more than just imagine, I need to practice that contentedness today. I need to say, in the face of pain, tribulation, and/or ridicule, “I am willing to go through anything for the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord.”
It is easy to write or read words of comfort and encouragement, but the same cannot be said for taking those words in hand and heart and stepping out in faith. As for me, I don’t want to be one of those who slides back into comfort and complacency, not stepping toward danger, just because I am afraid for my flesh. My soul and the souls of those who surround me are of far more value than this flesh and bone. Though I do not have the courage in myself, Christ in me is all sufficient. Amen! He answers the cry of my heart for courage, wisdom, and faith.
I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. – 2 Timothy 1:12b
Do not be afraid, Jesus does heal His saints, though His healing does not always come when we expect or in the way we would want.
I don’t want you to lose faith because of this post; I want you to gain a deeper understanding that this world, with all its pain and all its joy, is quickly fading away. The earth will die, and all that is in it, but the souls of every human being on this planet are eternal; and their eternal resting place, their home, is established while they live on this earth. After they die, there will be no more time to choose life. There is such a short window for them to hear and learn about Jesus Christ, their only hope of forgiveness and salvation. If the sons and daughters of God must suffer in order for souls to be led to the Kingdom of God, then I pray they would be ready to suffer and that they would not be afraid to suffer.
These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. – John 16:33
Most of us think of peace as a comfortable bed, a safe home, and loving friends and family. But the peace that God provides is most apparent when you are in the midst of a storm and water is filling up your boat. His peace brings you to your knees in gratitude, and causes you to pour out what is most precious to you. His peace stands when someone spits in your face. His peace surrounds the saints being tortured and imprisoned for preaching the Gospel. Peace is powerful, but it is not something this world can understand or hope to replicate. Leaders will try to make peace, but peace cannot be made without bloodshed, and it is not just the shedding of anyone’s blood that brings peace, but the shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood.
The work is done, the testament has been signed, sealed, and delivered, but for those people who burn that testament, throw it out of their schools and countries, and torture those who send it; there will be no peace for them in this life or in the one to come.
We all need Jesus. We all need grace. And “we all” does not exclude anyone, no matter how many terrible things they have done; we all need Jesus, and only Jesus can take our filth and turn it into righteousness.
Without Jesus, goodbyes are terrible, but with Him, goodbyes are filled with hope. Even if someone you love died, and never knew Jesus as their Savior, yet there is still hope for you. You have been given a chance that your loved one never took. And if they could speak to you, if they could reach across the great divide and tell you one thing, they would say, “Believe in Jesus. You don’t want to pay for your sin.” (Luke 16:19-31)
Say goodbye to sin and self, and find forgiveness, peace, and hope in the arms of Jesus.