Like the taste buds in one’s mouth, it is remarkable where the joy can come from compared to joys of the past. Not being one for reading or writing growing up or even in my years as a Christian, I’m amazed at the books I’ve read and the words I penned. Writing has become a passion, if not therapeutic for me these past several years. Whether it be these write ups or the songs I’ve written, it has been such a blessing to know that I have been used in the spreading of gospel and Christ gets all the glory.
In saying this, it hasn’t always been easy. Like a faucet, on more than a few occasions the gift or inspiration has simply turned off. Authors call it writers block when it is hard to put pen to paper, when the inspiration is gone. It has happened to me on more than a few occasions and the culprit in the lead up is almost always discouragement.
Over the past few months I have found it hard to write or even string a few thoughts together. So many of late; loved ones, friends and acquaintances; have been diagnosed with or passed away from some form of cancer or terminal illness. The result for me has been a depression that I’m unashamed to confess. One case in particular impacted our family hard as the individual affected was so young and left me with more questions than answers. In all of it I was left wondering where the encouragement would come from, where the light of Christ would be seen to give us hope.
As is the case almost always it is in the looking back; the after the dust has settled moments where clarity can be found. The biblical parallel to this is found in Matthew 8 and Mark 4 in Jesus’s calming a storm. It was only in the settling of the storm that the disciples had peace. Another example can be found in John 12 v 16 when the disciples had a chance to reflect on all that had taken place. The verse reads as follows:
“At first His disciples did not understand these things, but after Jesus was glorified they remembered what had been done to Him, and they realized that these very things had also been written about Him.”
I can say that I am having that moment now and the peace has been settling to my soul.
At first I was too afraid to look back as the thought of a Lot’s wife experience, ground zero so to speak, terrified me. But in this case I was not looking back craving a past life, I was looking back for a chance to celebrate life and God’s hand of grace in it. I feel insight has been revealed to me and I share what I hope to be encouragement for you in the words below.
Of all the instances of cancer and illness I have witnessed, 7 stand out for me right now and mainly due to the fact that they were the ones closest to impact either myself or my family. In each situation what has so inspired me, and it is only now that I see it, is the courage with which they had fought or are currently fighting the battle. In each case they chose to fight the battle publically for all to see. What I mean by this is that despite the struggle, they allowed themselves to be vulnerable by being accessible. When times were at their darkest these individuals were always welcoming and eager to give their love, insight and encouragement to those who love them, know them and even to those who did not know them.
Being on display, for me, has been a direct reflection of what was on display in Jesus and, to be more specific, the lead up and last days of his life. In Jesus, the God Man, was foreknowledge of what was to come. Knowing the hearts of men, he fully understood what the mission of his life was leading too and being fully human, did what we all do or should do in times of great distress, he fell and prayed for deliverance. Matthew 26 v 39 and Luke 22 v 42 both illustrate this but, more importantly on display is Jesus’s prioritization of his Fathers will over his own when he prays:
“Yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Despite the circumstance, Jesus never allowed the enemy to steal his joy; joy of what he knew to be eternally true; joy that sustained the apostles and disciples of old as it does the believers of today.
In looking at the life of Jesus, I see a life always lived in the moment. Despite his surroundings, he never lost sight or sense of his awareness. He always knew where he was and more than that who he was. I take great courage in this point particularly as Jesus says we are to be imitators of him and being called to that standard means that in him, it can be achieved. Paul knew this more than any when he stated the following in 1 Corinthians 11 v 1:
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
I feel I have seen and experienced this imitation and have been greatly comforted.
Passion plays often depict Jesus as suffering through the dialogue with the criminals as they hung on their crosses and I imagine that to be true. The event is outlined in Luke 23 v 39 – 43 as follows:
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.””
Paradise; the absent sting of death! In the suffering, I like to imagine as I read this that Jesus smiled, if not in his spirit, as his he saved the man and that his heart was full in the fulfillment of his purpose.
It is my prayer that if you have suffered or are suffering presently, regardless of the source, that the joy of Christ; the revelation of eternal life now for the believer, would so fill your heart that you would confidently and courageously live life on display; that your iron would be sharpened and your faith strengthened for all to see. I pray this for me and I pray it for you today.
God Bless – Sean Bosse