And no one laid hands on Jesus, for His hour had not yet come.
~ John 8:20 (NKJV)
Jesus—God made Man—was both Man of Sorrows during many hours, and faced an hour in which He was allowed to experience consummate suffering.
Perhaps the greatest of all life's paradoxes is the inescapable question of why a good God allows suffering. In searching out the full circle of truth to this paradox, we find an even greater paradox—that suffering is a primary medium in which God works:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-17 (NKJV)
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
~ James 1:2-3 (NKJV)
But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.
~ 1 Peter 4:13 (NKJV)
Exceeding joy. This is the masterpiece God is at work to create in us.
The more that fire refines gold, the greater the glory of the gold. The more that suffering refines us, the greater the glory of our joy.
We reach the culmination of joy only through death, the gateway with potential for greatest suffering. Perfected joy is found not so much in leaving this world behind as it is in experiencing the fullness of God's presence, without the distractions of this world.
But even in current days, during this temporal era of suffering and darkness and death, we find exceeding joy when we choose to place ourselves in the presence of God amid the distractions—and through the suffering—of this world.
Exceeding joy. This is the masterpiece God is at work to create in us, through the medium of suffering, even as He created it in His Son, in His hour:
... Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith ... for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
~ Hebrews 12:1-3 (NKJV)
Next time: bringing the paradox of Christmas and Crucifixion full circle.
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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