Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Then Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us go too, that we may die, [be killed], along with Him (Jesus).’”
John 11: 16
“Every step toward Christ kills a doubt. Every thought, word and deed for Him carries you away from discouragement.”
Theodore Ledyard Cuyler
Thoughts for Consideration:
Is there an event in my life right now that has placed me in a wilderness of discouragement?
If so, in what ways do I see God at work to bring me out of this dark, painful place?
“Should we feel at times disheartened and discouraged, a confiding thought, a simple movement of heart toward God will renew our powers. Whatever God may demand of us, He will give us at the moment the strength and the courage that we need.”
“Depressed, discouraged. Christian, let me urge you to take God at His Word. No matter how dark the night may seem – the morning will come. With the darkness there is also light. There is Christ; and in Him is light, light that will enable you to endure.”
Christ and Your Problems
After reading through the Bible on several occasions, I’ve come to the conclusion that if I thought I knew what was in the Bible, I was mistaken. Our study text for today is a perfect example.
Jesus and His disciples had finally undertaken a journey that would conclude in Bethany where in Jesus’ own, words, He said: “Let us go to him (Lazarus).”
Basically, Jesus was telling His followers that they were going to go see a dead man. And then Thomas spoke – yes, this is Thomas who has been referred to as the “doubting” disciple. I’d like to offer a slightly different take on Thomas, at least in this particular passage found in John 11: 16. John recorded that one of his companions, Thomas, said to his fellow travelers, “Let us go too, that we may die [be killed] along (Amplified Bible) with Him.” This doesn’t sound as though Thomas doubted Jesus was the Messiah. The fact is he even showed his loyalty to Jesus by saying he would die right along beside his Master.
But there is something I read in these words. It is resignation – even disappointment. It is almost as if Thomas is telling his friends, “Well, if we can’t talk Jesus out of walking right into a hornet’s nest, I guess we’ll just have to walk along with Him – and even die if necessary. Under the “we’ll go with You Lord” exterior was a disappointment expressed by the way Jesus apparently ignored their advice to stay away from the “hotbed” in Judea. I’ll go a step further for I think the disciples had, for nearly 3 ½ years, given up everything to follow Jesus. And if I had been right there with them, I think that I would have been discouraged that Jesus hadn’t moved faster to expand His ministry. And sadly, when we are discouraged, we frequently resign ourselves to whatever happens. In his wonderful book Disappointment With God, author Philip Yancey quotes one of my favorite old time writers, George MacDonald, who as Yancy notes, “summed up Christ’s approach: ‘Instead of crushing the power of evil by divine force; instead of compelling justice and destroying the wicked; instead of making peace on the earth by the rule of a perfect prince; instead of gathering the children of Jerusalem under His wings whether they would or not, and saving them from the horrors that anguished His prophetic soul – He let evil work its will while it lived. He contented Himself with the slow unencouraging ways of help essential; making men and women good; casting out, not merely controlling Satan…To love righteousness is to make it grow, not to avenge it…Throughout His life on earth, He resisted every impulse to work more rapidly for a lower good.” This appears to me to be the very reason Jesus didn’t take the shortest route and fastest vehicle to Bethany in the first place. It is the reason He waited two days. And it is the reason He chose to go through Judea. And if it discouraged those closest to Him, be it Thomas or Mary and Martha – Jesus’ design took into account not just the present problem but the future as well.
As J. R. Macduff correctly observes: “How often are God and man thus in strange antagonism with regard to earthly ‘happenings.’ Like Thomas we may give up and just say ‘I can’t understand why God does certain things.” “Where now is my God?” “This sickness - why prolonged?” “This thorn in the flesh – why still buffeting?” “This family crisis – why permitted?” “Why the most treasured and useful life taken – the blow aimed where it cut most severely and leveled lowest?” As Macduff so encouragingly continues:
“Your trial, whatever it be, has this grand motto written upon it in characters of living light; - we can read it on anguished pillows – aching hearts – on the very portals of the tomb – ‘This is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified!’ At the very moment we are mourning what are called ‘dark providences.’ – ‘untoward calamities’ – ‘strokes of misfortune’ – ‘unmitigated evils’ – Jesus has a different verdict – ‘I am glad for your sakes!’…It is indeed a comforting assurance in all trials, that God has some holy and wise end to subserve…The delay on the present occasion, though protracting for a time the sorrows of the bereaved, was intended for the benefit of God’s children in every age, and for the more immediate benefit of His disciples.”
“You meet me in gentleness.
You come close,
You take my coldness
and warm me from the inside,
As my cold heart melts, Lord,
let Your streams flow through me
that I may play my part.”
“Lord, come as sweet, healing oil into my weary mind, my bruised heart and my dried-up soul.”
The Undiscouraged God
“The grass grows slowly up the hill
With faith the torrent cannot kill,
And rocks are rough, and still the clover
The stony fields will yet run over
And I know nothing that the true,
The good, the gentle cannot do.
Woodlands that the winters sadden
The leaves of Spring again will gladden;
And so must life forever be –
The gentle hands work patiently
And yet accomplish more forever
Than these too strong or those too clever.
So toils an undiscouraged God
And covers barren fields with sod,
And so will hate and sin surrender
To faith still strong and love still tender –
And I know nothing that the true,
The good, the gentle cannot do.”
“Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is valued as a forest. Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness will abide in the fruitful field.”
Isaiah 32: 15, 16
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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