This past weekend, Pastor Dave taught from the book of Jude—a letter written by the half-brother of Jesus intended to encourage weary Christians who were experiencing severe and escalating persecution.
Many of us will never experience what those early Christians were experiencing: Loss of work and property—or even death as a result of their faith in Jesus. But each of us will suffer this side of Heaven. So how do we, as Jude says in verse 3, contend for our faith when pain can cast shadows on the goodness of God?
It’s interesting that in Matthew 7, Jesus tells the story of two people who built homes: One on rock, one on sand. Jesus says, “When the storms came the man who built his house on the rock stood secure while the man who built his home on the sand lost everything.” Jesus didn’t say, “The man who built his home on the rock didn’t experience the storm.” Both men went through a storm, but one remained secure through it, which tells us an important reality:
Following Jesus does not create a stormless life; it creates a secure life in spite of the storms.
What storm are you facing right now? What stress? What suffering? What injustice? I confess, in the last five years, there have been more than a handful of experiences that have tempted me to ask, “Where is God in all of this? Does faith even matter if I still have to experience this kind of heartbreak? Is God even…real?”
Can I tell you this? Yes. Absolutely yes. In fact, the Gospel tells us that God sent Jesus to experience this world among us—God endured and experienced the heartbreak of humanity alongside us, and then He conquered death in all its forms, once and for all, with His resurrection from the grave—and He reigns now and forever. His life is breathing hope and joy in these broken days.
Pastor Dane Ortland said it this way, “If you are in Christ, you have a Friend who, in your sorrow, will never lob down a pep talk from heaven. He cannot bear to hold Himself at a distance. Nothing can hold Him back. His heart is too bound up with yours.”
God is not far and is not absent from the trials you are facing. May the words of Jude written to suffering believers thousands of years ago fill you with courage today to hold fast to your confidence that God loves you, He is with you, He is able to carry you through whatever you are facing, and the end of the story for all of God’s children is beautifully, wonderfully good.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.“ —Romans 8:18–19