Posts Tagged suffering
This past Sunday we shared Louie Giglio’s powerful message, “Anchor of Hope” from his series, “Hope When Life Hurts Most” (you can watch it here or buy the DVD here). One of the most memorable parts of the message was when Louie was sharing about Ashley, the college student who became a Christian after a friend attended the Passion 2007 conference and then died a few months later, just before her graduation (Louie’s talk, “Fruitcake and Ice Cream” tells more of Ashley’s story as well).
Louie also shared about his subsequent interactions with Ashley’s atheist dad, Mike. He said they were in dialogue about Jesus and pursuing a friendship but that there wasn’t a “bow” to wrap around the story — no obviously happy ending.
Well, I was informed yesterday that there is more to the story, which Louie shared with his church last January. In his message, “God is For Us” (about Romans 8), Louie concludes by telling what has happened with Mike in the last few years.
We’ve cut the audio down to about 18 minutes here. You don’t want to miss this!
P.S. Sometimes there IS a bow! It just takes longer than we might hope or expect.
“For whatever reason, God chose to make man as he is — limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death — he [God] had the honesty and the courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with his creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that he has not exacted from himself. He has himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life to and the cramping restrictions of hard word and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair, and death. When he was a man, he played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace, and thought it was worthwhile.”
-Dorothy Sayers, as quoted in Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus, p. 39.
The pastors of the Acts29 Network are grieving this week as we’ve learned of the death of one of our fellow pastors in Pakistan. For the last few weeks, we had been receiving updates that this pastor and his brother had been arrested for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammad. Indications are that these men were wrongly accused as a form of persecution in the almost totally Muslim area.
Here are a few things on my mind as I consider this series of events:
- Persecution is still a serious reality in the world. I tend to forget that many people around the world continue to suffer imprisonment and death for the sake of Jesus. These brothers and sisters desperately need prayer (for specific opportunities for prayer, visit Voice of the Martyrs).
- My problems are small. The challenges I face and the troubles that seem like a big deal to me are quite small in comparison to true persecution. This is a helpful perspective to remember.
- God has a specific plan for martyrs to give him glory. I keep meditating on Revelation 6:10-11 – ‘They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.’ God has a plan and it will not be done until the number of martyrs is complete. Then he will avenge their blood. Look out.
- What an honor it is to die for Jesus! True martyrs are not those who are looking for death (i.e. suicide bombers). True martyrs are those who are faithfully serving Jesus and are killed as a result. The apostles counted it a joy to be worthy of suffering for Jesus’ name. How much more would it be an eternal honor to die for him?!
- Jesus’ Church will flourish. The old saying goes, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” and history has proven this to be so. When persecution is strong, Jesus is shown to be more valuable than life itself. When this happens, people see his glory and live for him. Jesus builds his church and hell’s gates won’t prevail against it.
In conclusion, let me recommend John Piper’s powerful message, “Doing Missions When Dying is Gain.” It’s worth your time. Pray for Rashid’s family. Pray for God to turn this death for good. And pray that the fame of Jesus would spread.
Where does your joy come from? Does it come from circumstances or from the unshakable reality of God? Consider Habakkuk 3:17-18:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
May our joy be in God, even when everything else crumbles.
In yesterday’s sermon, I mentioned a young pastor from Texas, Matt Chandler, who recently had an unexpected seizure and was diagnosed with tumor on his right frontal lobe. He had surgery this past Friday (all reports sound like it has gone well), and he recorded a video for his church family prior to the surgery. It’s a wonderful example of how to approach this kind of trial.
Louie Giglio has been a key leader in helping college students and twenty-somethings develop a passion for the glory of God. As the founder of the Passion movement, he has invested his life in helping people see the grandeur of God in all of life. Now, as the lead pastor of the new Passion City Church, he’s continuing this vision in the city of Atlanta.
In these two messages, Giglio shares how we can have hope when life hurts most, and he shares a very real and personal story about how he’s seeing this work out in the life of a student that became very important to him. These messages were first shared with me by my cousin Zach, who lives in Atlanta and was deeply moved by these messages. I hope you’ll take the time to watch and learn from these moving talks.
Some of you read the title and thought, “Wow, how dark is this? He’s recommending a funeral eulogy?”
Yes I am.
It’s a recording of Dr. Wayne Grudem speaking at his daughter-in-law’s funeral a few years ago after she was tragically killed in a car accident, just 3 months after her wedding to Dr. Grudem’s son Alexander. Though it’s emotional to listen to, it’s worth the 17 minutes that it will take you. I love it for two main reasons: 1) It makes me believe that Heaven is real and 2) it’s instructive to hear a world-class theologian apply truth to a personal and painful real-life situation.
Nightline recently did a debate about the existence of Satan, featuring Mark Driscoll, Annie Lobert, Deepak Chopra, and Bishop Carlton Pearson that will air in part tonight on ABC. You can watch it in full at the Nightline Face-Off website.
Every year at his pastor’s conference, John Piper does a biographical message on some influential Christian of the past. They are typically very encouraging and insightful (click here for a full list). One of my favorites is his message on the life of John G. Paton, who was a missionary to the New Hebrides islands. This message inspired me to read Paton’s autobiography, which is absolutely riveting–it’s like reading an adventure novel.
Anyway, this is a great message about courage, faith, parenting, and enduring suffering in a way that honors God.
I’ve just finished reading the book Madness by Jossy Chacko, the founder and president of Empart International, an organization that has planted more than 1,100 churches in India in the past 10 years. It was a great story of God’s work in his life and of the beginnings of a true church planting movement that is, even now, experiencing intense persecution in cities like Orissa. Pray for them.
One of the most challenging quotes for me and for us was this:
“Why do people go to church on Sundays? For many it’s to get pumped up for another week so they can go out and do their own thing. Is this our purpose as Christians — to come together once a week for a lovely time of prayer and worship and teaching? We accumulate books and DVDs and tapes and go to our graves with all these teachings in our heads. But what have we done to reach the unreached? How many will be in heaven because of our time on earth?”
May God bless Second Mile to be a church that is more than just Sunday and is filled with people who are making an eternal impact for King Jesus.