My wife and I are under a tremendous amount of pressure lately. Financial, vocational, relational, spiritual, geographical; you name it, we feel it. The intensity is immense and I feel much like the Apostle Paul as he catalogs his concerns in ministry (2 Corinthians 11:24-29). As he observes, there is a direct correlation between the degree of pressure we experience and the manifestation of our weaknesses. Yet, Paul goes on to insist that our human weakness is also the means God uses to manifest his strength in and through us (2 Corinthians 11:30-12:10). For that, I am thankful….truly thankful and honored that God would use my frail humanity to display his power!
This past weekend while in Colorado Springs we took the opportunity to go to one of our favorite spots and spend time in prayer. As we were praying and experiencing the unforgettable Garden of the Gods, the Lord reminded me of the upcoming Easter season.
Suddenly, my heart was comforted with the fact that Jesus’ resurrection, if really true, is God’s consummate response to sin and evil in this world. Death does not have the final word and neither does discouragement. Could it be that for me to remain in despair over our pressures is tantamount to denying the reality of the resurrection? Wow!! Bam!!! This hit me like a ton of bricks. If I honestly believe in the historical reliability of Christ’s resurrection, that it really happened, then I have to believe in all that it stands for now. It’s not merely a guarantee of life after death (though it is that for sure), it is much, much more. The same power that God displayed in raising Christ from the dead is identical to the resource God provides for us in desperate times. Paul’s prayer is that we realize God’s power to live the Christian life “is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead” (Ephesians 1:19-20; see also Romans 8:11-14; Colossians 3:1-4).
Without question, these pressures place us in a strategic place now and there is tremendous opportunity for growth. As I see it, the only way to move onward and upward in Christlikeness is to engage Hebrews 12 head on:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
“Lord Jesus, by the strength that comes from your resurrection, may we throw off everything that hinders, run with perseverance, fix our eyes on Jesus, and consider him who endured such opposition so your power is made perfect in our weakness.”
Soli Deo gloria!!