How Sorrowful Suffering Leads to Regal Redemption

Our humble King rode into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey. Entering the temple, He proclaimed the Scriptures with authority. Justice was served to those who took over the Gentile area of the temple to sell the sacrificial animals instead of marketing on the streets. The disciples ate a special meal with their King, assuming military takeover would commence shortly. For a brief moment, it seemed as though the Israelites were ready to embrace Jesus as their king in hopes He would overthrow the tyranny of the Roman government.

Don’t you often feel the same when you experience a spiritual high, like you’ve arrived at the pinnacle of your calling, in Him? The adrenaline of joy springs you out of bed in the morning, ready to face whatever the day will bring. Passion fuels you to love God and serve others wholeheartedly. It would seem that nothing could quench the fire within your veins for the things you are doing, knowing you’re in the middle of God’s grand story for your life. Oh, how those preciously sacred moments give you a taste of eternity with Christ! The joy and passion of being in His will is invigorating, especially when you see Jesus’ authority and leadership at work.

Then comes the time of testing that hits you like a firehose of water on your flames. The passion and joy turn to sorrow, confusion and/or discouragement, leaving you questioning what God’s will is for you in that season. How do you move forward when grief weighs so heavy upon you?

Though the people assumed Jesus would do things one way, the reality of what took place brought those same feelings of confusion and despair to them. Even Jesus Himself was filled with grief beyond comprehension.

“Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” Matthew 26:37-38

When His time of earthly ministry had come to an end, the greatest challenge awaited Him before returning to His royal throne in heaven. While He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, as one pastor said recently, “Jesus was staring down the barrel towards the cross. He knew the pain He was about to endure and chose to say yes anyway.”

In that middle moment of waiting in the garden of Gethsemane, knowing someone who had followed him closely had just gone to betray him for a meager slave’s price, and that He was about to endure the torment of beatings, mocking, and death on the cross, He was filled with such deep sorrow, an angel had to come strengthen Him in order to keep going.

“Then an angel from heaven appeared to him, strengthening him. Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke 22:43-44

When grief strikes hard, it renders you speechless. It feels like you’re purely existing; stuck in one space and time when everyone else continues to move ahead. How will you keep going? What prayers could you possibly utter to God when you barely have enough strength to breathe? As I’ve experienced during my own times of sorrow, you might have heard that just saying the name of Jesus holds power. But what about Jesus Himself? In is time of deepest grief, what words was He able to utter to the Father? We find them written in Mark 14:36, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” 

At times of sorrow, you may wish you could express more to Him. And yet, Jesus uttered the same prayer over and over again. “Once again he went away and prayed, saying the same thing.” Mark 14:39 It was all He could do. He cried to His Father, giving God glory, and reminding Himself of His Father’s ability to do the humanly impossible. He pleaded His case asking for relief, then surrendered Himself to the Father’s will, knowing that however painful, His way is best. That’s all Jesus could do, and, it was all that was needed. Three times, He repeated the same prayer as He wept.

It reminds me of Paul’s prayer in his time of great trial when the Lord allowed someone and/or something to torment him so that he would not exalt himself for the things the Lord revealed to Paul in the heavens. 1 Corinthians 12:8-9 says, “Concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it would leave me.  But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.” Three times, Paul pleaded his case to the Lord, receiving the same results as Jesus: God’s grace and power to endure.

Though Jesus went through the hardest suffering of God and man, He looked ahead to the joy that was to come in order to endure His present trial, which by doing so obediently, gave Him the right to sit on His royal throne to reign over heaven and earth.

This, therefore, is what Paul did.

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead,I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I are to called to model Him. Therefore, the author of Hebrews calls us to do the same as He did:

“Keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

While you “take up your cross daily” (Luke 9:23) and endure for Christ, look to the joy awaiting you! Paul reminds you as well of your outcome.

Our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly wait for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.” Philippians 3:20-21

Though Our King of Kings endured deepest sorrow, beyond any you or I will ever experience, as we look to the Hope of Easter, we’ll be reminded that He did not remain in sorrow or death, but has risen, and now reigns over heaven and earth. Our sorrow and eventual physical death will not end there either. If you’re a child of the Living God, your citizenship in heaven will equal eternal life and the greatest reward one could ever fathom!

So, though your grief may feel most heavy at times, remember, it is not the end! It is for a moment, and God will redeem all that is broken. Hold fast to Him, cry out in prayer to our Abba Father, and trust in His goodness and glory!

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