Suffering; July 17, 2021

Isaiah 53:10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53 is one of the “superstar” chapters of the Bible. I’ve lost track of how many testimonies I’ve heard of Jews who came to realize that Jesus was indeed their promised Messiah through reading this chapter. Verse 6 is one I memorized as a young boy, and I’m glad I did. Every line of it is deeply meaningful. The reason this verse stands out to me right now is a very unexpected testimony I was able to hear over the Internet yesterday. John Voight was being interviewed by Tucker Carlson, and it was expected to be about political themes. Instead, John shared at some length about an encounter he had with the Lord that has massively shaped his life ever since. He was going through a very difficult time in his life, having recently been divorced, and he was thinking, “It’s so hard!” Out of the blue he heard God speak to him very clearly: “It isn’t supposed to be easy.” That brief encounter gave him the deep revelation that God cares, He’s interested and He’s paying attention. He said that awareness gave him a joy that has stayed with him ever since. To me that agrees perfectly with this verse. It was God’s intention and plan that Jesus suffer so horribly for us, just as is so graphically portrayed in the movie, The Passion. In the same way, God plans difficulties, even suffering, in our lives for specific purposes, stretching and growing us to be more and more accurate representatives for Him, expressing His grace and love to the world. It doesn’t feel like love at the moment, but it is. It’s like it says in Hebrews: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11) We are to rejoice that God cares, and look forward to the eventual outcome.

John Voight’s experience certainly reminds me of my own, when I was thinking over a lot of things and thinking, “There are so many things I wish were different!” Just as happened with John, suddenly I heard the Lord say to me, “How do you think I feel?” That gave me the deep and abiding conviction that much of what is going on in the world isn’t what God wants to happen, but He’s still in control and it will all work out in the end. Having God speak to you personally is certainly a life-changing experience! God doesn’t desire to bring suffering into my life, but sometimes that’s what I need, maybe for myself and maybe to equip me to minister to someone else. When Jesus went through so much to secure my salvation, why should I complain about the little I have to go through?

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for what You said to and through me the other evening, when I commented that with all that the believers in China and Hong Kong are going through right now, I have no room to complain about my trivial difficulties! Help me keep that truth in focus and indeed rest, relax, and rejoice in You, just as You have told me to do, accomplishing Your will on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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