Christ’s Glory Through His Death and What This Means For Us

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We’ve all encountered someone who later turned out to be much different than we originally thought. Maybe they presented as the perfect, compassionate friend only to turn on us when we didn’t meet their expectations. Or perhaps the opposite occurred and we assumed someone was shallow or selfish or irresponsible, only to discover, when life became hard, they showed themselves to be steady, present, and unshakable.

It’s so easy to misjudge someone and assign selfish motives or ill intent. For years, I did this to my husband, and it nearly destroyed our marriage. He and I are different in so many ways, including how we receive and express love. I’m a “quality time” person who measures the health of our relationship based on the depth of our conversations. He’s a provider and protector at heart whom will spend hours if not days searching for that perfect gift and earning the income to provide it.

Not being a “gift” person, I not only didn’t understand this, but in my misunderstanding, I assumed his motives were as opposite to truth as possible. In my thinking, he loved his job more than my daughter and I and was merely buying us presents or trinkets to appease us. But then we went through a difficult financial period and I watched him sacrifice time, energy, sleep—everything—for us. I’ve seen this again and again. When times become difficult, his inner hero emerges, casting out all doubt regarding who he is and the depth of his love.

We see the true nature and affections of a person during difficult circumstances, or as a former publishing colleague once put it, “Squeeze a sponge and what’s inside comes out.” Likely we can all attest to the truth in that statement, not just in regard to others, but in relation to Christ as well.

I’ve shared previously how my view of God has shifted over the years. The more I come to know Him, the clearer His heart becomes. Through difficulties, upheavals, and uncertainties, He’s revealed misconceptions and allowed my faslehoods to surface so that my heart can become, ever-deeper, anchored in truth. When it felt as if my world were spinning out of control, He held me and worked my chaos to good. When it seemed as if everyone else had abandoned me, He remained and drew me close. When bitterness welled within and even my prayers turned angry, He spoke words of love to my breaking heart.

Again and again, through hard times and good, God has shown me His love and faithfulness are beyond anything I could expect or imagine. However, He’s revealed Himself most clearly through the cross. If I ever doubt who He is and how He feels, not just about me but for all His creation, may God remind me, afresh, of the price He paid. May that dark moment in history forever be a beacon to my heart and yours, a reminder of who Christ is at His core.

In John chapter 13, shortly before His death, Jesus gathered His disciples close and explained to them all that was to come. “One of you who has just eaten from this bowl with Me will betray Me” He said (v. 23, NLT). “For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago” (v. 24, NLT). What’s more, “All of you will desert Me” (Mark 14:27a, NLT). He told them He was going to die but that He would also rise again.

After His betrayer had left, Jesus said to His precious friends, “Now is the Son glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once” (John 13:31, NIV).

Christ was glorified on and through the cross, an act that Scripture reveals as “the very lowest point of His degradation” but which “John’s gospel always represents as the very highest point of His glory.” For the cross glorified Christ “in two ways. It was the revelation of His heart; it was the throne of His sovereign power” (MacLaren).

This is what it means to be glorified, edoxasthē in the original Greek. It’s ascribing God His true value and recognizing or acknowledging Him for who He truly is and honoring Him in that.

On the cross, we see Jesus’ unchanging nature: the victorious, self-sacrificing God who loves His children fiercely and will stop at nothing to draw us close. In His resurrection, we see His sovereignty over death and sin.

Through Christ’s horrific death, God the Father and God the Son received clear and immeasurable glory, casting a beam of truth and grace upon all mankind.

And now that we’ve seen Him for who He truly is, He invites us to live in that truth. To live changed, for Christ’s grace and truth, when received, always lead to transformation, so that we too, His redeemed children, are revealed in how we live and love.

Or to put is perhaps more simply: Jesus showed who He truly is and the depth of His love through sacrifice. I must do the same.

Let’s talk about this! How often do you pause to contemplate all Christ did on the cross and what that reveals about Him? When has His death and resurrection felt most real to you?

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Speaking of thoughts that produce gratitude and praise … YouVersion has recently released Jennifer Slattery’s Bible reading plan, Bible reading plan imageCultivating a Thankful Heart–just in time for Thanksgiving! You can check it out HERE.

 

How God Responds to Our Pain

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If you want to catch a glimpse of God’s heart for you, simply watch a mother with her newborn. The hours spent walking the floor as she tries to soothe her little one to sleep. The energy sacrificed to care for her. The joy she feels when the child grows or laughs or simply breathes. Her anguish when her child is sick or in pain.

Nothing tears me up and drives me to pray quite like seeing my daughter struggle. About two and a half years ago she accepted and eight-month coop in North Carolina. Anxious for an opportunity to venture into the adult world, she left Nebraska with hope-filled anticipation.

Her enthusiasm soon turned into a scary depression, triggered by numerous circumstances. First, she was considerably younger than all her coworkers, which made it difficult for her to form relationships. Second, she was paired with an extremely critical and domineering roommate who caused my daughter to doubt everything good about herself. Navigating a management role at the age of 19, this was her first time living so far from home, and she was lonely. She struggled to find a faith community and missed her friends and family. As time went on, her feelings of isolation grew, which only served to deepen what we later learned was undiagnosed depression.

Watching her struggle from afar, I felt powerless to help her. I often longed to catch a plane, if for no other reason than to stay close. To hold her, and in so doing, to shoulder some of her load.

When we’re hurting, like my daughter was, it helps to know we’re not alone. The truth is, if we belong to Jesus, we never Quote from pulse and woman looking out the window are, regardless of how we feel. Scripture promises that. It tells us, throughout its pages, that God is with us, loves us fiercely, and will never leave us. What’s more, when we feel as if our heart is shredded, when the pain is so intense, it steals our words and we find ourselves unable to pray, the Holy Spirit steps in and intercedes for us.

Romans 8:26 tells us “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (NIV). Words in the original Greek often convey such richer meaning than our English translations, and that is true here.

When we suffer, and we will, the Spirit closely identifies with our suffering and comes alongside us in a deeply personal, empowering way. The late biblical commentator Matthew Poole phrased it this way: “The word” helps, or more accurately, joins to help, sunantilambanomai in the Greek, “imports such help, as when another of great strength steps in and sustains the burden that lies too heavy on our shoulders.”

But God does so much more than that. He feels our pain and prays for and with us with “groanings too deep for words” (ESV).

I’ve never understood the depth of this verse, the depth of God’s emotion conveyed by the words Paul chose, until I too prayed and “groaned” for my daughter during her struggle. If God feels even half of what I did, and I know He does, as His love is so much greater than mine, than I know, when I’m hurting, His heart breaks as well, and His heartbreak spurs Him to action.

God stays with me, offers His strength in place of my weakness, and prays with and for me. He doesn’t let up nor will He leave until He’s carried me safely to the other side. He will do the same for you.

Let’s talk about this! Did you know that God prays for you? That He’s deeply concerned for you and loves you as deeply as Romans 8:26 indicates? How does this knowledge bring comfort when you feel pain? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

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Additional Resources:

The Problem of Pain by CS Lewis

Thinking Right When Things Go Wrong by JC Hutchison

God Meant it For Good by RT Kendall

Finding Jesus in the Center of My Pain by Jessica Brodie