Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2
Let us think today of joy in the midst of suffering. Suffering seems to be the opposite of joy but for the Christian it is a mysteriously difficult tool for joy. As we think of Jesus coming into this world we need to remember why he came; “to seek and save the lost” Luke 19:10. We also need to be reminded of the way He fulfilled His massive mission. The road to accomplish this was an ordained Calvary road of radical obedience even in the face of pain, insults, being misunderstood, and ultimately death. The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus “for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”. Jesus knew that His suffering and death would vindicate His Holy Father(Romans 3:25), absorb the wrath of God(1 John 4:10), show the wealth of God’s love and grace for sinners(Romans 5:7-8), provide a basis for our justification(Romans 5:9), make us holy, blameless and perfect(Hebrews 10:14), gain His joy and ours(Hebrews 12:2, Psalm 16:11) and so much more!! But these extremely invaluable accomplishments happened in and through great suffering and faithfulness. Suffering in the lives of the saints may not always put a smile on our face and the faces of those around us but it will always lead to a smiling Savior who tenderly and magnificently loves us and who is well acquainted with our pain and sorrow. Do not miss out on the depths of His love in your sufferings beloved, and do not interpret a suffering-less life as a life of joy. Let us pray for those who suffer today among us that they would be comforted by our all-wise and abundantly loving Father and that they would taste of the Divine.
Further texts Romans 5:3, 8:18 2 Cor. 1:5-7, Phil. 3:10, 1 Peter 4:13
Written for Salem Baptist Church (2006) inspired in part from John Piper’s Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die.