Soul piercing agony.  Flesh withering sorrow of heart.  Gut wrenching desertion of close friends.  Horribly brutal physical torture.  Foes spitting shamelessly in your face.  Mocking and rueing of fellow and natively sinful mortals.  

This scorn was measured by the disrespectful tearing of clumps of hair from your once glorious beard.  Seeking to take your natural and glorious created body and holy head, to then, tear away at the face of love.  Loneliness.  False accusations.   Death sentence and label of “blasphemer” to a man who can not lie.  A very public and indignant humiliation of being labeled a criminal and set on public display as such.  

The unholy abandonment of your beloved family.  Rejection by your rabbinical leaders.  Carrying forward a public image of weak, tepid, and insignificant leader.  

These were the horrors our Savior faced with more courage then anyone of us could understand or ever muster from our humanity to endure.  The lashes inflicted that tore through His sacred back were just a part of the afflictions He suffered.  So many more harsh circumstances marked His decision to commit His life and way into the hands of His Father.  But Jesus committed His life into the Hands of His Father anyway.   And did so with complete confidence His Father's care, all the way to the point of breathing out His last sigh on the cross.  We learn here that even death could not separate Him from the love of the Father.

We must embrace this attitude of heart and gain a spirit wrought understanding that this is our portion as well.   To confidently lay our lives into the hands of our God no matter what our present circumstances dictate, changes everything for us and deepens our walk with Our God.

This faith-filled commitment will contradict all logic and natural sense of self preservation.   Just a surface study of the last days of our Messiah Jesus, we discover that his suffering as a real man were more then just vicarious sufferings for His people, but they also provide an example for us to follow in our days of difficulty.   When we listen to His Voice and follow Him  we should expect that our following Him will lead us to the same kinds of hardships that He faced in His walk here on earth.   We must know we are living out the truth started our journey to Him and His message --- the complete surrender to Him and His Will!

Like our Lord walked and did for us 2000 years ago, so must we commit our reputation to the Father.  Our Lord laid His sacred and unblemished life into the eternal hands of His Father, in doing so, He established our eternal salvation and eternal inheritance for us.  When we follow Him into the valley of the shadow of death, we earn blessinga and rich fulfillment in the world to come. 

We should not be surprised when His guiding Hand leads us precariously into personal suffering and abandonment.  This was how He learned obedience, and so must we learn here, in the same place of embarrassment and soul-searching.  To trust our Father rather then our natural and very “churchy” sense we have learned by observation and hanging out with selfish people in society.  

Peter commands us to “arm ourselves” with the same mind as Jesus had on the road to Golgotha.  The writer to the Hebrews who wrote specifically to those christians still living in Jerusalem that their sufferings under much persecution were best endured as they focused their mind and heart on the  example set by Jesus.  His suffering gained the high honor of becoming our Melchizedek, the Great High Priest of God.  So too our suffering will bring us to  a place of honor in the world to come.

Heb. 2:9-10 says, But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.  For it is fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.”

Not soon after speaking these words, our writer from the 1st century reminds us with great sternness, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the Living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called, 'Today' lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” 

Everything I am led to say today comes to you right out of the furnace of God's chastening hand upon my life.  Strange and very real afflictions mark me my family of 7 young children.  Why do I suffer?  I will tell you after much soul searching; they come attached to the call and in the way of following Christ.  

Should I or you be surprised if we have to endure hardship?  Should it surprise us if we are called to lay down and trust God while our life continues to get crazier and crazier.  Our hardship is the way of preparing us to be preachers of the gospel, not fine living, but hardship, just because we said to Jesus, “I will follow You!” 

Note with me the words of our Lord Jesus to His disciple and friend, Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath.  Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”  Jn. 18:11  Just a couple of verses earlier the Lord let his freakishly scarred disciples run away to safety to escape arrest.  He did not allow them be sullied with the label of “insurrectionist”  No, he told his captors that He was the one they seek, “I have told you that I am He, Therefore, if you seek Me, let these go their way.”  

To understand the call on our lives as ambassadors of Christ, pleading on His behalf, we must accept the way of suffering and hardship, Why?  Because we stand in the place of Jesus when we plead with a lost world, “be reconciled to God.”  How do we attain the proper urgency to make this cry to our world?  By allowing the Lord to show us the state of things, we move in the way and speak in the manner of the prophets of old, who were commissioned by God to warn his creatures to escape His very certain judgment.

Can we really move into a place of urgency without seeing the world in the real state that it is in?  When Paul Revere rode through the night to warn the American revolutionaries that the “British were coming” did do so with a lax attitude?  No, Paul Revere knew the reality of the threat of losing their houses and land and potentially the loss of their lives if the British army came without any defense or battle.  There was a lot to hold on to as England sought to bring our forefathers back into the control of her empire.   Clearly the starkness of the situation led Paul Revere to charge, without reservation, into the darkness of night to warn his fellow countrymen that certain peril was to soon to overtake them.  Action must be taken, they must arm themselves and place their families into safety and get ready to fight!

In Luke's account of the last words of Jesus, while He hung upon the cross go like this, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”  Can you feel those words burn in your heart today?  They burn in mine as I face certain trouble in the days ahead.  No matter where I turn, it seems that trouble is unavoidable.  I know for a certainty that God is with me, but that doesn't change the reality of my painful circumstances.

The more I study Jesus, the more I want to fall down and worship Him.  How did He go through all that real pain and emotional suffering?  What a drain they were upon his human emotions.  Did He doubt at all?  Was He always believing?  How did He overcome His doubts?  He in every way becomes my propitiation but also my hero, my example, and my mentor.

I believe Luke's account of Jesus last words, “in your hands I commit My spirit” reveal the spirit of our God's approach to our suffering.  Today I ask you, “Are you ready to lay down when everything inside you says, leave, run, give up, go back to the comforts of normal living?” Are you prepared to say like Jesus, “into Your hands I commit my spirit?”  

This is the right spirit of any man who has been saved by grace, delivered from the wrath to come, a man who doesn't deserve the blessing of heaven and the glory of being an heir of the glorious promises that are yet to be revealed in us.

Join with me today fellow soldier, come to the cross and die to self and comfort.  Find deep association with Jesus and walk with Him through your painful circumstances.  He is right there with you!  No matter what lies Satan whispers in your ear, Jesus is there, right beside you!  As we embrace His call, He comes to hang out with us and encourage us to hang in there.  Our love and devotion to Him increase day by day as we walk with Him.  No one can comfort a suffering christian like His Lord Jesus.  

Today resolve with me to lay your life into the eternally capable hands of Your heavenly Father!

Many blessings,