GOD’S PURPOSE FOR YOUR PAIN – A PATHWAY TO PROMISE
We are in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, friend. The threat of COVID-19 has led to a temporary, new way of life for almost all of us. I’m writing from my home office instead of my church office. I haven’t seen my church family, whom I love dearly, in weeks, and I miss them. But I’m still working hard to serve each of them!
How about you? How has your life changed? What are you missing right now? Are you feeling uncertain and off-kilter because your plans aren’t coming together as they should?
I’ve been there. In fact, I’m there probably once a day! Each time I had a plan. I knew what I wanted to happen; afterward, I even knew where my plan had gone wrong. Let me tell you, I wanted a “do-over” each time. I wanted all of my work and preparation to lead to the results I wanted. Instead, I was left with unmet expectations and a sense that I wasn’t in control.
Unmet expectations are difficult to deal with. They always cost us more than we expect: more effort, more work, more money, and more time. We lose sleep, our stress levels shoot up, and we have to face the fact that we aren’t in complete control of our lives. And right now, we are in very limited control of our lives.
My unmet expectations have had an unexpected benefit though. I learn from them. I grow as a person. The next time I face whatever threw my plan off course, I am ready to deal with it.
Each time I am left with new information and a new understanding or revelation about myself or others. Gradually, I learned that even when I am facing a painful or difficult situation, I could push through. I can persevere because God has a purpose for my life.
My problem in the past has been how to understand God’s PURPOSE in my pain. And I have to admit, I am still dealing with that to some extent. What I need to do, and what you should do as well, is find a PATHWAY to the Promises we receive from Him.
PATHWAY TO PROMISE
I found that pathway in the story of THE CROSS!
Do you ever find yourself discouraged, depressed, defeated, or devastated? I want to encourage you today that there is a pathway for you as well. A path to hope, change, and transformation.
The story of the Cross takes place over 3 Days and 3 Nights. It is the story of the ultimate redemption, and while it starts with suffering and death, it ends with Hope and Transformation!
Day 1: Friday, was a day of suffering, pain, agony, and death. For that one day, God was silent. He refused to listen to the people who had sinned so severely and who were torturing and killing His beloved Son. All pleas and prayers, even those of Jesus himself, fell on deaf ears.
Day 2: Saturday, was full of doubt, confusion, misery, and mourning. Jesus was dead and buried. His followers were left alone. Humanity was separated from God’s presence.
Day 3: Sunday, was a day of HOPE, JOY, VICTORY, and TRANSFORMATION!
THE FRIDAY STORY
The Cross is the Friday story. It is a story of PAIN—every kind of pain. That Friday saw the death of dreams, heartbreak, unfair circumstances, and betrayal. For the people who loved Jesus that Friday was the embodiment of ‘unmet expectations. They had never dreamt their beloved teacher would die a horrific humiliating death between condemned criminals! However, Jesus knew from the beginning of His ministry what that Friday would bring, and He walked forward into that unspeakable pain for all humanity anyway.
Why Did Jesus COME?
He came to restore our relationship with the Father. Jesus longed to have a relationship with each of us. He longs for you and me even now!
He also came to bring eternal life. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”
He came to ensure His followers would have abundant life on Earth. John 10:10 says, “… I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Have it to the full. The word full is defined as “over and above, more than enough, abundantly.” Jesus wants each of us to live a FULL and ABUNDANT life. He wants us to have more than enough. And He died on the cross on that Friday to make sure our FULL life was possible.
All three of these are accomplished because Jesus came to bring us salvation. According to Romans 10:9, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
The Greek word sozo used in this verse translates as “to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction.” It also translates as “deliver or protect” and “to make whole.” Jesus did not come just so we could be forgiven and become a Christian. His sozo (salvation) means receiving everything He intended for us to have. You were created to experience every good part of life on earth.
Jesus paid a price for us—spirit, soul, and body. He suffered in all three areas. He went to indescribable lengths to make us free. This is only a glimpse of what He did for us.
Jesus knew what was going to happen to him. He read the scriptures. He understood the suffering He would have to endure to save us, and He did it freely.
Isaiah 53:5, a verse Jesus would have been very familiar with, foretold His suffering, stating, “the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
That suffering came in the form of the Cross.
- The heavy beam of the cross across His shoulders and the procession of the condemned Christ began its slow journey down the Via De Larosa.
- The weight of the heavy wooden beam together with the shock produced by the blood loss was too much, and our Lord stumbled and fell.
- As He fell, the rough wood of the beam punctured the lacerated skin and muscles of His shoulders.
- When they arrived at Golgotha, the beam was placed on the ground, and Jesus was thrown backward, His shoulders against the wood.
- The soldiers stretched His arms against the beams.
- The Roman legionnaire then felt for the depression at the front of His wrist and drove a heavy, square, nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. He moved to the other side and repeated the action.
I can imagine my Lord, Jesus, turning His head toward the nail just as the soldier lifts the hammer to strike it. No doubt Jesus saw the mallet, the nail, and the soldier’s hand. I also believe that Jesus saw something else. Through the eyes of Scripture, we see what others present on Friday missed.
We know what Jesus saw: “Having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).
Between His hand and the wood was a list. A long list. A list of mistakes, lusts, lies, greedy moments, and prodigal years. A list of our sins. The list of my sins. The list of your sins.
Dangling from that cross are our bad choices from last year. The bad attitudes from last week. In front, all eternity on that Friday, there in broad daylight, for all of heaven to see, is the list of our mistakes.
The list, however, cannot be read. The words cannot be deciphered. The mistakes are covered. The sins are hidden. His hand hides those at the top; His blood covers the rest of the list.
OUR SINS ARE BLOTTED OUT BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS
GOD’S PURPOSE FOR US TODAY
But what does it mean for us today, as we live in a time of uncertainty and promise?
Life is Not Futile. “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jer. 29:11).
Failures are Not Forever. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).
Death is Not Final. Paul wrote in Corinthians 15:51-54: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Does your life feel futile or out of control? It doesn’t have to.
Do some of your failures seem like they will last forever? They won’t.
Does the grave appear to be the final stop? Death has been swallowed up in victory!
There is a truth more significant than all the losses and sorrows of life. And it can be discovered in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through his death, your life has purpose and meaning. You are forgiven and loved by a Savior who died for you.
Here’s the FACT of LIFE, you will face these three days over and over in your lifetime.
- You will face pain and death.
- You will experience doubt and confusion.
- And God will bring you Hope, Joy, and Transformation in the form of new beginnings.
It’s a cycle of the human condition. So the real questions are:
What do I do in my days of pain?
How do I get through my days of doubt and confusion?
How do I get to my days of joy and victory?
The answer is: by LIVING THE POWER OF THE CROSS.
Suffering and pain have changed me for the better. Even this forced isolation from the people I love has changed me in ways I hadn’t anticipated. Every problem I have faced has been a push in a new direction—an opening to further understanding.
My answer and yours is THE CROSS—the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
What’s so GOOD about Good Friday? Because of that supernatural Friday, we have the daily power for abundant living now, with eternal life as a bonus!
WOW! Mind-blowing! Wonderful! Praise Jesus!