New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Thank God tomorrow is Friday.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase as the weekend draws near. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve uttered it myself.
But this is no ordinary week. And this will be no ordinary weekend.
For followers of Christ, Easter always delivers a powerful reminder to T.G.I.F. in a different light.
Without Friday, there could be no Sunday.
No pain, no gain.
No suffering, no redemption.
Yet over the 12 months that have passed since last Easter, our family has been learning that as long as we’re here on Earth, every day is a unique combination of Friday ... and Saturday ... and Sunday. I know that may sound weird, but stay with me on this.
Frustration, humiliation, brokenness, suffering
This isn’t heaven, so to some degree, we all experience Friday every day of the week.
Computers that don’t work, difficult people, traffic jams, bounced checks, relationship issues ... various forms of rejection and humiliation.
Then there’s FRIDAY. Layoffs, sickness, emotional and physical pain, loss.
This last year has been our FRIDAY, probably the most difficult and challenging we’ve experienced as a family.
We’ve lived through plenty of heart-break, but none of it has been a surprise.
That’s because we have a loving God who made sure to alert us up front, in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble ...”
We have an empathetic God who’s been there and knows. In The Message, Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all ...”
We have a compassionate God who allows suffering to reach us to draw us deeper into a relationship with Him. Psalm 84:11 says, “No good thing does he withhold ...”
So in the midst of our year-long FRIDAY, we’re learning we have a powerful God who is sovereign and in control. And it’s for His glory — and not our comfort or happiness — that He’s walking us through this journey.
Uncertainty, but an expectant waiting and anticipation.
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve been told trouble is coming. And we’re smack dab in the middle of it.
But we have a God who tells us we’ll never face it alone. (Isaiah 43:2)
Despite the continued decay of our human bodies, we have a God who tells us better days are ahead. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Despite our fears, our tears and our struggle to hold on, He tells us don’t quit now, our faith is actually growing. (Philippians 1:6)
Full disclosure: I haven’t always believed that during the past year. There have been times when I’ve looked around and envied the good things others have. We’ve even prayed to the effect of getting “our old lives back.”
And I can tell you with all certainty that God has answered every one of our prayers for those issues we’re facing this year.
Sometimes, it’s been a resounding “Yes!”
Sometimes, His answer has been a gentle “No.”
At other times, it’s been a firm “not now.”
But we remain hopeful because we know how our story will end. We know all about ...
Victory, power and joy.
We have a Savior who knows, who cares and who has come for us. For those unfamiliar, here is the hope of Christians in a paragraph:
It is the story of how God became man, lived, and was tempted in every way, just as we are today. He went through everything we’re going through — and did it perfectly. Christ took upon himself all of God’s wrath for all of our sin. He died and then was resurrected in power, which then became our justification. In other words, for those who believe, God now looks upon us just as if we’ve never sinned. And just as if we’ve always obeyed. And He is the ascended ruling King who has sent us His spirit to work through us in all things.
That’s good news, isn’t it? That’s a message worth celebrating at Easter. That’s a message worth remembering.
It’s not on our shoulders to perform. It’s not about us measuring up to some sort of standard.
God placed the burden on His shoulders — and Jesus carrried out the plan to perfection because He knew we never could.
That’s true freedom.
But we’re human. Tomorrow, we’ll forget the good news yet again. Tomorrow, we’ll experience pain, frustration and the loss of something we began to value more than Him.
But because we have a Savior who wept, it’s OK for us to cry, too.
Because we have a Savior who was afraid, it’s OK for us to confess our fears.
Because He is perfect, we imperfect creatures can call out to him, “Get me off this roller-coaster!” or “Please turn on the lights! I’m scared!”
Or, better still, “I can’t do this anymore. I give up.”
Knowing that, let’s now finish those verses we started back on Friday.
John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble ... but take heart! I have overcome the world.”
In The Message, Hebrews 4:15 tells us, “We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all ... all but the sin.”
Psalm 84:11 says, “No good thing does he withhold ... from those whose walk is blameless.”
I could never overcome the world. I’ve never gone a day, let alone my life, without sinning.
But that’s OK, because our lives are not about us. It’s all about Jesus. We are simply the instruments He uses to point others to Him. And only He is blameless and supremely worthy to be pointed to.
Paul reinforces that in Colossians 1 ...
•16b: All things were created through him.
•16c: All things were created for him.
•17a: He is before all things.
•17b: And in Him all things hold together.
And later on in the chapter, Paul tells us: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
His life. His power. His energy. His work.
You know, the only thing worse than telling a control freak like me what to do is telling me there’s NOTHING I CAN DO to help.
So now what? What do we do with our huge to-do lists now that we don’t have to do anything?
We rest. In Him.
We live in Friday and Saturday. And He delivers Sunday.
Rejoice and be glad this Easter.
It is finished.
And that’s some really, really good news.