It really gave me pause as I read this post-it from my 14 year old. I slowly opened my Bible to Romans 5… I think giving myself a moment to catch up to the weight of her Bible Study reflection. Even though I knew what I’d read, it still hit me again.
Peace and Hope
5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Life’s not always easy… understatement for sure. I’m not unaware of that reality. Pretty sure I’ve known it since I was young. That doesn’t seem to stop me from wishing it was though…
I took a course in college called, “The Problem of Evil and Innocent Suffering.” As a World Religions class it looked at this topic from the perspective of the major world religions. There were days it just about broke my heart. ‘Cause as you work it through… evil is… well… evil, awful, vile, insidious, unrelenting… And working through the realities of “innocent suffering” can just about tear you up.
People everywhere, facing things I can’t even imagine, searching for meaning, purpose, answers, hope…
To this day, I remember the awful internal struggle I had all those years ago to hold onto hope through that semester’s material. How much more when it isn’t just a class topic but real life lived?
Also to this day, I remember looking differently at these verses from Hebrews 12.
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Right now I’m just focusing right in on these 6 words: for the joy set before him
Why? Because it takes me right back to the moment as I’d been bombarded with a whole semester’s worth of classes looking at the philosophy, theology, religious views, earthy understandings of evil and innocent suffering… at that moment those 6 words cut to my heart.
See, because Jesus came as fully God and fully human, born into this broken world, grew up in a life surrounded by pain and suffering, lived a sin-less life, was misunderstood, misrepresented, betrayed, tortured and died… for our redemption.
Jesus endured it all for the joy set before him.
The glory of God being revealed in the saving grace, the unimaginable mercy expressed through the sacrificial love of Christ poured out for us… the joy set before him.
Oh- what Christ endured for the joy set before him…
It is all too easy to lose grow weary and lose heart as I walk the road of life through the hard times, when living faithfully takes effort, when life presses in scripture encourages, “fix your eyes on Jesus…” So I ask myself … what joy is set before me? If Christ willingly endured more than I can even imagine… for joy set before him… it didn’t stop any of the pain, couldn’t prevent any of the betrayal, didn’t lessen the suffering he experienced… but he faced it all for the joy set before him.
What is the joy set before you?