Don’t lose it….

black hole“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-4 HCSB.

Like a surgeon, Larry Crabb with stunning precision picks apart a heart in the midst of trial.   This passage is too good not to share.

Whatever the angel said to strengthen Jesus, the effect was surprising.  I would have expected Him to dry His eyes, smile bravely, and get on with His mission.  But instead Jesus cried harder, so hard that His sweat became like drops of blood.  That happened after He was strengthened.  Perhaps we’re meant to learn that the richest hope permits the deepest suffering, which releases the strongest power, which then produces the greatest joy.  Maybe there is no shortcut to joy.  Maybe God sometimes frustrates our desire to experience Him in order to deepen it.

And then, at some point, Jesus did stop crying.  The season of anguish yielded to calm resolve.  Like a man in charge, Jesus walked back to where He had left His disciples.  They were asleep.

And once more He said, “Pray so that you will not gie in to temptation.”

I titled this chapter “Jesus Speaks.”  Drawing from all that we hae now considered, I hear Him speaking words like these to us.  Listen.

“Some of your fondest dreams will shatter, and you will be tempted to lose hope.  I will seem to you callous or, worse, weak — unresponsive to your pain.  You will wonder if I cannot do anything or simply will not.

“As you struggle with dashed hopes, you will fail, just as my servant Peter did.  You will feel discouraged with yourself to the point of self-hatred.  And I will seem to withdraw from you and do nothing.

“When all of this comes to pass, My word to you is this: Do not lose hope.  A plan is unfolding that you cannot clearly see.  If you could see it as I do, you would still hurt, but you would not lose hope.  You would gladly remain faithful to me in the middle of the worst suffering.  I guarantee you the power to please me, not to hae a good time.  But pleasing me will bring you great joy.

“In the deepest part of your soul, you long more than anything else to be a part of My plan, to further my kingdom, to know Me and please Me and enjoy Me.  I will satisfy that longing.  You hae the power to represent Me well no matter what happens in your life.  That is the hope I gie you in this world.  Don’t lose it.”