I sat down this morning after dropping my son off to school and opened my bible. If I am honest, it was feeling like a pretty unspectacular Thursday morning. I was feeling a bit down. I found out this week that my grandmother has lung cancer. This will be round 5 with cancer for her. This was after recently learning that other’s in my missional community have family members who are battling cancer….again. Perhaps you too are reading this and have stuff like this going on in your life. Hardship, sickness, struggle, depression. All the real stuff of life that comes with living as fallen people in a fallen world that is not our home.
As a pastor I worry about how things like cancer (and other sufferings) will shake the faith of people I love and lead. This morning I was unknowingly carrying the weight of all this. I approached reading God’s word more out of duty than delight. I was planning to do my daily reading quickly, and then get on to my work. I wanted to get my work for the day done as quickly as possible so that I could get home and “rest”. And then I encountered God in his Word and found the rest that my soul truly needed. Perhaps it will be what your soul needs as well.
This morning I read Psalm 3. Here are a few of the verses.
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head. 4 I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. 5 I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not be afraid of thousands of people who have taken their stand against me on every side.
Followed by Romans 5:1-5.
1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, 4 endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. 5 This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Pretty good of God to have me read these two passages this morning, right? So timely and needed. There is so much good truth in these verses, but here is what struck me, and what I want to share with you today if you are suffering, struggling, or feeling down…
Cling to Jesus. There are so many other “hopes” we turn to when the heat gets turned up in our life. But Jesus is where we need to cling. Allow Jesus to become your shied, your glory, your hope in the fire. Remember that he drank the full cup of suffering in his life and death on your behalf. So that in his resurrection you might have life and hope. There is a connection between life and hope. The kind of life that Jesus purchased for us isn’t one void of suffering. Do you hear that? A life void of suffering IS coming for you, but not until Jesus sounds the trumpet. Until then suffering and struggle will be the reality of the human experience. No matter how much we try to escape it with toys, trinkets, and experiences— we are still living in a world marred with sin and death. But a life full of hope in the midst of suffering is what Jesus died to purchase for you. A life where things like cancer or depression can be classified as “light and momentary afflictions” compared to the “eternal weight of glory” we have in the gospel (2 Corinthians 4:15-17) is what you’ve been given. Wow! This is the perspective we need. This is our greatest reality. So, cling to Jesus. He reminds us of this every time we turn to him.
Also, rejoice in Jesus. As Paul tells us in Romans 5:5, the hope that comes from Jesus” will not disappoint” you, but it will cause you to rejoice. From despairing to rejoicing we go as Jesus floods your heart with the love of God for you! It will cause your “head to be lifted up”. It will cause your gaze to get beyond what is right in front of you, your eyes to get wider and brighter as you look upon him. It will sustain you in the moment of afflictions— producing endurance and character. It will cast our fear. It happened for me this morning. And I believe it will happen for you every time we cling to Jesus in our time of need. His Spirit floods our hearts. He rises up and saves us. This is who he is. This is what he has been doing for believers for the last 2,000 years. Sustaining us through the fires, filling us with the love of God.
So let’s rejoice today, no matter what you are feeling or facing. Let’s look up to the “holy mountain” and hear all that Jesus has done for us. Let him be your shield, your glory, your hope today. The salvation we need belongs to the Lord (Psalm 3:8), not to anything or anyone else.
It’s a joy to be one of your pastors as we together cling to Jesus and live His way in our city,