A few weeks ago, I had a week that was a roller-coaster of emotions. It caused me to stop and reflect on how God is faithful to be with us in the midst of a variety of situations.
I had spoken with a member of the church, who updated me on her struggle with her recent cancer diagnosis. She described how she and her family members are trying to cope with the changes in each one of their lives, even as they are trusting God. It hurts to consider all that they’re going through; I’m deeply saddened. It can be disorienting to me when I watch the people I love, suffer.
Then the same afternoon, I was preparing for the baptism of a new believer from China. Just four months ago, in a Christianity Explored class, this young man had made it clear he was not a believer. But over the course of the class, God moved in his life and he wanted to be baptized that Sunday. He also wanted to join Redeeming Grace Church in the mission Jesus has given us. As I reflected on the power and love of God demonstrated in his transformation, I was flooded with a sense of amazement and joy.
What a wide range of emotions – from grief and sadness to amazement and joy. As the Apostle Paul put it, “sorrowful yet always rejoicing.” (2 Cor. 6:10)
It made me think about all that we are going through as a church family. I kept coming back to the four women who are battling cancer, and several others who are facing significant health and personal struggles in our midst. I don’t understand why they have to go through all that they’ve experienced, but as their church family we are standing with them and their families, in faith that God is aware of their circumstances and his love for them is as consistent and strong as ever.
As we seek to make sense of all that God is doing in our midst, first, let’s remember God is not immune to our pain and suffering, he is with us in it. I’m reminded of a quote from John Stott. He writes in The Cross of Christ (p. 210), “I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?”
Jesus bore our sins on that cross and that gives me hope. As the author of Hebrews writes, “… we do not have a high priest who us unable to sympathize with our weaknesses …” (Heb. 4:15). The founder of our salvation was made perfect through suffering (Heb. 2:10). “… [H]e himself … partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely … he helps the offspring of Abraham.” (Heb. 2:14-16).
God himself is the one who comforts those who are sad or discouraged (2 Cor. 7:6); he is the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor.1:3).
We have a God who is not immune to our suffering. He is with us in our struggles and he is doing a good work in us as we persevere together (Rom. 5:3-5). So, let’s continue to pray for those suffering in our church family and their families, knowing we serve a God who is in control of every atom in the universe (Eph. 1:11). We can trust him.
Thank you for your prayers, and your fellowship, through hard times and times of rejoicing. Thanks for caring for God’s people. Let’s continue to “bear one another’s burden and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
It is a joy to walk this road with you.