The Real God in the Midst of Real Pain

“…at once the Spirit sent Him (Jesus) out into the wilderness… Mark 1:12

(Herod) locked John up in prison.”  Luke 3:20

I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, “Do not fear; I will help you.”  Isaiah 41:13

I recently wrote an article describing how when Christians experience the loss of our dreams, it might be good to sit quietly in the presence of God waiting in trust for what God has prepared for the future.

What has been amazing is the tone of the responses I’ve received. Almost all sound like the popular song, “Don’t worry, be happy.” A kind of “don’t-worry-it’s-not-really-that-bad-everything-will-get-better.” Could this be denial of the pain and reality of life, the stuffing down of emotions?

It was with these responses in mind that my mind wandered to the verses above. John had just experienced the earth-shattering, heaven-opening baptism of Jesus. Now surely the glorious beginning of Jesus’ ministry and the fulfillment of all John the Baptizer’s dreams of the coming Messiah will occur. But then we read that immediately after hearing His Father’s affirmation, Jesus is sent by the very Spirit entwined with His own being into the wilderness of temptation and suffering. And then this cousin of Jesus, blessed to be the herald of the coming Kingdom, is thrown into prison.

Both John the Baptist and Jesus were faithful and learned Jews who knew the writings of the Prophet Isaiah. Was it in prison and in the wilderness—real places of real suffering—that both men recalled, “Do not fear; I will help you”? God did not rescue Jesus from the temptations of the Evil One. He gave Him power to resist. God did not open Herod’s prison doors so John could escape and continue ministry. Instead the Tetrarch Herod ordered John’s head to be presented on a platter for the cruel enjoyment of his guests.

It is in all places, in all times—in the Jordan Rivers, in the wildernesses, in the prisons—that we hear the “Do not fear; I will help you.” As the Apostle Paul described it, it is “in every circumstance and in everything, we are to “make your wants known to God.” Then “God’s peace shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 Amplified Bible)

The real God comes in the real pain.

by Marilyn Ehle
Used by Permission

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