My husband and I are raising two little people. Sometimes when we’re talking to our 6 year old, he’s quickly replying with “yes ma’am” or “yes sir”. No doubt there are times that his quick agreement comes at the cost of fully understanding what we’re asking of him. He’s 6, so I get it.
But isn’t this just like many of us with Jesus? We’re like the man in Luke 9:57 that quickly says, “I will follow you wherever you go.” In our heart, we just want to follow Jesus.
In Joshua 1:6-9 God tells Joshua,
“Be strong and courageous because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers … Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it … so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
I can just hear myself saying, “Yes sir. Strong and courageous, got it. Not sure you needed to say that three times, but whatever. Now let’s go lead these people to the Promised Land!”
Then I get in the throes of a hard season, a painful circumstance or even a time where my role plays out backstage and I’m crying out for deliverance or doubting God’s goodness or wondering if I am actually following His will for my life.
Have you ever been there?
Since it’s mentioned so many times, it’s worth a word study on strong and courageous.
adjective • not deterred by danger or pain; brave.
1. having the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks.
2.able to withstand great force or pressure.
If you’re still leading the charge for strong and courageous then well done good and faithful servant. But I’m over here like, “yikes, Jesus. Did you mean to choose those words?”
When Jesus’ followers couldn’t fathom that He would have to suffer IN God’s will for His life He said, “… you are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” (Matthew 16:23)
1Peter 4:1-2 The Message says, “Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.”
There it is: sight, thinking, freedom.
And here we are with things in life we will never see as good this side of heaven. There’s no pretty Christian bow for everything here on earth. So when the pain and discomfort starts creeping up into our personal space or great pressure ends up smack dab in the middle of God’s will for our life – what are we going to do with it?
Is it enough to just observe Jesus’ life and suffering, thinking the model of suffering stops short of the cross? After all, that was just for Jesus right? Or could it be that all of His suffering — including the cross — is showing us the very level of dying to self He’s after? As in, Jesus’ entire life is a model for us.
You see, it’s not enough to agree to follow Jesus to greener pastures. We must learn to see and think like Him in order to follow a crucified Jesus all the way to the cross.
But perhaps in those times it’s less about seeing a situation as good and more about see Jesus as good. Seeing how He’s moving and how He’s giving pain purpose.
Jesus suffered. And in order to be like Him, we must suffer like Him. Hard, painful circumstances, wave upon wave. Many troubles, Jesus told us. And before you thank me for this dose of reality you didn’t want, there’s hope!
“The high and lofty one who lives in eternity, the Holy One says this: ‘I live in the high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I restore the crushed spirit of the humble and revive the courage of those with repentant hearts.’”
Jesus is the restorer of the crushed spirit. The reviver of courage. Only He can give our pain purpose. And only He can cause us to have a strong and courageous follow. The Power Supply is there.
Maybe when our circumstances press in we could begin to believe that He’s working. Making us less like us and more like Him. Praise will flow from our lips as we’re rooted in the soil of His word, giving us the very breath in our lungs. Our roots grow deep giving birth to transformed thoughts and renewed vision, yielding fruit of strong, courageous faith and leading generations to come to the shade only Jesus can provide.
Friends, Jesus is life. Our very breath is His. Lean in. Dig deep. Strong and courageous is really a surrendering. A beautifully painful surrender that will callus your hands and bruise your knees. There will be pain and tears. But Jesus is there empowering all the way. Don’t miss the beauty of His presence because of the presence of hard.