John 12:27-28 (NIV)
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
For most of us Westerners, anything related to suffering (disease, break-up, loss of job, finances, etc) seems to be our worst nightmare. In fact, some of us specialize in worrying about every possible scenario, even those that will likely never happen, where hurt and pain would literally terrorize us to the core.
Not so in countries where Christians are persecuted. Suffering is an everyday fact, so why worry about it? In fact, this is a Biblical concept: "Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34 NIV). No, for these Christians the worst thing that could ever happen is for them to be disobedient to their Lord Jesus, the Christ!
Can you imagine the terrible loss if we were to ever turn our backs to our Savior? Suffering is temporary and can lead us closer to our Master, but disobedience hurts our God to the core, and can even lead to eternal consequences!
I read somewhere about a missionary who worked with women in Ethiopia who had been kicked out of their homes because of their faith in Jesus. These ladies had already lost everything because of their decision to follow Jesus. They had lost their homes, their incomes, and even their families and friends! Their only livelihood was begging in the streets, and they were now living in slum conditions. The missionary couldn't resist asking them: "What does Jesus mean to you?"
Their answer amazed him: "Jesus means everything to us! He provides for all of our needs. He loves us and cares for us. He is our Father."
Is it possible that those of us who live in the Western world have been blinded to what really matters in our lives? Are all of our security blankets hindering us from truly trusting the One who provides?
Yes, we will go through some terrible suffering. We live in a world of sin and we can expect trouble and pain.
Even Jesus confirms this for us: "In this world you will have trouble." (John 16:33a NIV) However we often tend to forget what He said after these words: "But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b NIV)
Jesus has overcome this world. Jesus has overcome our dire circumstances. No matter what happens to us, if we remain focused on Jesus, we will end up where tears and suffering are non-existent, and we will forever be in His presence! Doesn't that fill us with adrenaline? Aren't we anticipating the day when we will see Jesus face to face? Aren't we looking forward to the time we will be able to participate in unrestrained worship with all of our hearts and souls, as well as with our perfectly healthy bodies?
May we learn from Jesus to always insist on glorifying God's name, no matter our circumstances.
Dear Lord, we pray that we would set our focus on glorifying You no matter the circumstance . Help us stay focused on Your love. I Jesus’ Name, Amen.