Do you ever wonder if Jesus felt a little bit like a fool?
I know that question just ruffled a whole bunch of religious feathers. Some of you reading this just had a very visceral response to that question. And that’s probably a good thing.
But this is a serious question that I’m asking. Do you ever wonder if Jesus felt a little bit like a fool? Ever wonder if he thought that this whole thing of preaching to an unresponsive people, having the crap kicked out of him, suffering and dying wasn’t really worth it for the pay off?
Now, if we’re biblical Christians, we know the spiritual answer to this, right? In his divinity, Jesus knew precisely the reason he had come, he knew what he would suffer, he knew that he would be mocked and scorned and beaten and killed. He knew. And he did it anyway.
But in his humanity, you have to wonder if, at some point, he was like, “What am I doing? Why am I doing this? This isn’t what I signed up for! Am I a fool for doing this?”
Maybe you don’t wonder about those things but I do.
With all that has happened with me and my family over the last few months, I’ve felt this way at times. The anger is gone (well, mostly) by the grace of God and the help of a good and godly counselor. But the questions remain. And I don’t think there are any easy answers.
Most recently, as I’ve been frantically job searching, I’ve been dealing with a lot of these questions and feelings; questions like, “Was I a fool to leave security behind to follow Jesus on this path?”
If I’m being honest, I feel a little bit like a fool. I had a really secure job and was on the down hill slope of what had been a good career. I had served my community and, through that, my country for many faithful years. Sure, there were things about being a police officer that sucked but overall, it is an honorable, courageous and mostly thankless calling. I still have many friends, brothers, sisters and colleagues that lay their lives on the line every day. I miss those friends. There is something about risking your life together that binds you to each other; it is a tie not swiftly broken.
So this is a hard question and place for me. Was I foolish? Have I risked the safety and well being of my wife and family for nothing except heartache and pain?
Maybe you’re in the same boat as me right now. Maybe you’re asking yourself some hard questions. Maybe the enemy is twisting things to deceive you and, even though you know that it’s not true, you feel that there are no easy answers and you don’t know where to go.
May I take this opportunity to tell you something? Despite what these false teachers out there will tell you, life is not always going to go swell for you if you follow Jesus. You may not have health and wealth and prosperity. In fact, the overwhelming majority of the New Testament speaks to the suffering that will come your way if you follow Jesus. Don’t believe me? Let me explain.
I’m reading through the Gospel of Matthew right now. Here’s where I am right now.
“You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved…A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!...So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows…He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”
This is Matthew 10:22, 24-25, 31, 37-39 (NASB)
This seems pretty clear to me and I hope will be an encouragement to you as well. Jesus made no bones about what life as his disciple would be. If we are his disciples, we will be hated, we will know fear and we will have to give up all that we hold dear, take up our cross and follow after him.
But why, we ask ourselves? Why does it have to be this way?
Because a disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.
But it is enough that we become like the Teacher and enough that we become like the Master. Endure, brothers and sisters. Hold fast to Jesus, for he is holding fast to you! Don’t be afraid (I struggle with this) but take up your cross and follow Jesus.
One day we will see Jesus face to face!
On that day, neither you nor I will regret following him for then we shall have our reward; we shall see him as he is!
Soli Deo Gloria!
Ever heard the term “dark night of the soul?” I hate to be the one to burst the bubble here but the poem written by John of the Cross was NOT about difficulties in life. However, we have taken it to mean that over time. More recently I’ve referred to this idea of hard times and emotional turmoil as being in “a dark place.”
If you’ve been keeping up with my family and I on social media or my blog, you know we’ve been in a dark place now for a bit. About three months now to be precise. I won’t belabor the point but we’re kinda hanging out in the breeze, kinda dangling and wondering what’s next.
Along with these dark places that we often find ourselves in, doubt becomes a daily companion. Oh, I don’t want that to be true but it is. I am doubting things I once didn’t and having feelings of regret for decisions made.
I got up early this morning to read God’s Word and pray. I’ve found that I crave that now more than ever. Since I came to Jesus in faith 12 years ago, I’ve always desired the Word and prayer. But it’s different now.
There’s desperation to my need now. I feel like I have to have it to survive. And, if I’m being honest, there are moments when I still don’t know if I will. This morning was one of those moments. I’ve been reading through Matthew’s gospel really slowly ‘cause I wanna soak in Jesus. I want to feel the texture of his words and see the smile on his face, watch the tears roll down his cheeks, hear his laughter and feel his pain. So I’m going slowly.
This morning I was reading in chapter 7, verses 7-11. Here is what Jesus said,
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
I sat back and looked up…by the way, why do you do that when we pray? The Spirit is present inside us and the Father is everywhere so why do we look up? I digress.
So I read this text this morning and, when I prayed, here is what I said to him, “I don’t believe you. I’ve been asking and seeking and knocking and I haven’t received and I haven’t found and the doors aren’t opening. What good gifts have you given me?! You’ve taken away our financial stability and my calling in ministry, you’ve given us sleepless nights and tears and fear. I don’t believe you.”
And then I stopped because I became afraid. What if God became angry and punished me for what I had just said? I mean, in my mind, he already was punishing me for something. But I had to be honest with him and so I said again, “I don’t believe you. I want to but I just don’t. I’m sorry.”
I’ve been fighting back tears all day because of this. How can I not believe God’s promises to me in his Word? I talked to a couple of men I trust who are pastors about this and even cried a bit. I said to them, “I just don’t believe that right now. I know I should but I don’t. I mean, Jesus is supposed to be enough but today, he’s just not.” Both of these men listened and said, “I know. I don’t know how to tell you that he will bring you through it but he will.” Neither of them judged me, neither of them scolded me for my stated unbelief.
And then I was eating lunch, sitting at our dining table, chewing a ham sandwich and trying not to cry. And Jesus spoke. Not in like an audible voice but he showed me an image of him hanging on the cross crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
It was all I could do to hold it together. But I cried when I was writing this because Jesus had finally spoken. In that moment he, in effect, said to me, “You are not alone in how you feel. I have felt forsaken. I have felt abandoned. You are not alone.”
I feel like maybe there are some of you who need to hear this today. I feel like maybe there are some pastors who need to hear this today. You are not alone in your dark place. I know you have doubts and I know there are moments when you say to our Father, “I don’t believe you.” I want you to know, whoever you are reading this, that he’s not mad at you for your unbelief in your dark places. He’s not mad at you when you doubt. He’s not mad at you when you cry out to him, “Why have you forsaken me?”
The only answer I can give you is that Jesus sees. Jesus knows your pain; he has been there. Jesus knows your doubt, for even he cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?”
You are not alone.
Jesus is with you. Hold on to him, dear ones. Hold on to him; Cry if you will, scream if you must, rage at the pain. It’s okay to feel this way. But hold on to Jesus in that dark place. He has been there and He is with you. Hold on to Jesus.
Hold on to Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria!