Encouragement 2-25-04

February 25, 2004

Encouragement for Today 


Suffer with Me Awhile
Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries


Key Verse:


Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.  Stay here and keep watch with me.”   Matthew 26:38





I dipped my piece of torn bread in the cup of dark purple juice and placed it in my mouth.   I tasted the ripeness of the fruit and savored the texture of the bread.   “I will remember, Lord.”  I spoke the words in my head, silently thanking Jesus for the sacrifice He made for me on the cross.  


Within a minute, the aftertaste of the juice distracted my communion meditation.   It was more bitter than usual and I thought about taking a sip of something else to remove the flavor from my mouth.  Should I grab my coffee, or some water? 


Immediately, the Lord spoke to my heart:  “Suffer with Me awhile.”


Tears filled my heart as I realized how quickly I wanted to remove the unpleasant taste … how fast my thoughts drifted from the suffering of Christ to my own comfort. 


On the night of His betrayal, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to watch and wait for Him while He prayed.  During the time when our Lord was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” His closest friends couldn’t keep awake.  Three times Jesus returned to find them sleeping. 


For those three disciples, it was sleep that drew them from Christ’s request to keep watch with Him.   What is for me?  What keeps me from obeying Jesus’ requests?  Oh, the easy ones I have no problem with.   It’s the ones that infringe on my comfort that I wrestle with the most.


Someday, we’ll get to enjoy heaven and all its perfection.  But for now, the work God’s calls us to do here on earth is often uncomfortable, physically tiring and emotionally draining.   On some days, obedience to the call of God means downright dirty and difficult work. 


While my flesh would prefer a cushy assignment, I don’t want to shake the nail- scarred hands of Jesus, the hands that touched lepers, the hands that stroked the head of a broken sinful woman, with hands that have never gotten dirty from life.


During this time of Lent, consider what sacrifices the Lord might be asking of you.  Perhaps it’s serving in an area at church that’s difficult, reaching out to an unfriendly neighbor, or mending a broken relationship.


Moving from service in comfort to sacrifice builds spiritual character and maturity.  But more than that, our hearts unite with Christ as a suffering servant. 


Jesus asked us to carry our cross daily.  Before we can truly appreciate what happened on the cross on that Friday 2000 years ago, or what happened on Easter, we need to deny ourselves and follow Jesus wherever He leads.  And stay awake while we do.



My prayer for today:


Heavenly Father, You are faithful and awesome.  Forgive me when I disobey your requests to seek my own comfort.  I ask for a heart like yours that sees beyond the surface of this life, a heart that sees the work that needs to be done from an eternal perspective.  I pray for courage and boldness to become a steadfast servant, pleasing in Your sight.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.



Application steps:


Consider if you have “fallen asleep” instead of persevering in something difficult that Jesus has asked you to do.   Ask the Lord what He would have you do.  Then pray for the strength to persevere.



Reflection points:


Is there an area of spiritual maturity in which you need to grow?


How have you put your own comfort ahead of serving Christ?


Why would Jesus have asked Peter, James and John to watch with Him while He prayed? 


How does it benefit you when you stick with and finish a difficult assignment?


Is there something that Jesus has asked you to do that you haven’t done?  Describe.



Power verses:


Luke 9:23-24  Then He said to them all:  “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.”  (NIV)


Phillipians 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.  (NIV)


Psalm 52:10  Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  (NAS)


Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)


Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!” (NIV)



Additional resources:


Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Lysa TerKeurst


P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries


Originally published Wednesday, 25 February 2004.