When Nothing is Something
Lila and her husband looked forward to the birth of their second child. But then they were attacked for their faith in Christ. Lila was beaten. Her pre-born baby died.
It has been over two years since I read about Lila on the Voice of the Martyrs website and prayed for her. I remember her because her baby would have been born about the time that my third grandchild was due. Sometimes I think about Lila. I pray for God’s comfort and continued healing. For peace. For grace to continue caring for her special needs first-born child and to forgive her attackers.
What is going on in Lila’s heart these days? Is anger and bitterness growing? Or is there an atmosphere of forgiveness and acceptance?
This week, many Christians will attend Good Friday services to remember Christ’s suffering and death. In the gospel accounts of Christ’s trial and beating, Jesus either answers questions simply that were put to Him or remains silent.
Some may say conclude Jesus did nothing when accused. Outwardly, it appeared that way as He did not resist. Yet, according to I Peter 2:23, Jesus was actively responding to every threat, every insult, every blow, every sin against him. Speaking of Jesus, I Peter 2:23 says, When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (ESV)
Did you catch what Jesus was actively doing? He was entrusting Himself to His Father, the Righteous Judge. I imagine that with each derogatory insult hurled at Him and each effort to mock Him as king with crown of thorns and “robe,” Jesus probably had a running dialogue with His Father. I am entrusting You even with this, Father. This is not what I want, but I know all things are in Your hands. Forgive these who sin, for they are but tools of the Evil One. Use even this mockery to glorify You.
The English Standard Version of I Peter 2:23 says that Jesus continued entrusting Himself to God. The King James Version says that Jesus committed Himself to God.
Most of us have not been beaten and whipped for our faith recently or even had insults thrown our way. Yet, living in a fallen world, we have many opportunities to apply this truth. Whether we are hurt intentionally by someone’s cruel words or their murderous attack, or whether we suffer from the unintentional—natural disaster or disease, we can commit ourselves to God Who judges righteously. Commitment to God means three things.
Committing Oneself to God Means Acceptance
Jesus clearly illustrated acceptance when he prayed, “ … not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 ESV). This is a good prayer for us as well. If we live long enough, we realize our life has not turned out the way we would have planned it. The things we cannot change are the things we need to accept if we are to have peace. We do not have to get full understanding to be accepting. Sometimes we need to set aside our questions for now and accept what is.
Committing Oneself to God Means Forgiveness
Christ had the power to free Himself from His sufferings. He could have called angels to slay those intent on putting Him to death. But Jesus realized that those who spewed insults and wove thorns to cut into His scalp, were merely tools of the Evil One.
As difficult as it is, we need to realize the mouth that says unkind words or the hand that holds the gun that kills, is not the enemy (although the law needs to deal justly with them). Yet, spiritually, they are a tool of God’s enemy and God would want us to forgive.
Committing Oneself to God Means Redemption
Many places in the Scripture speak of Christ’s suffering. Of his example to us, of the evidence of his love for humanity. Each pain, each shame, was transformed from something dark to something bright and precious.
The hard things in our life, can be used for redemption. They can show God’s power in us through our weakness. They can encourage others in their trials.
We may wonder why Good Friday is called good. Perhaps one reason is that on that day, Jesus gave us a shining example of committing Himself to His Father Who judges righteously. Because Jesus knew that, we too, need to commit ourselves to God in our life circumstances.
Even now, Jesus prays for Lila whose pre-born baby was killed. And He prays for us in our afflictions that we will commit ourselves to the Rightous Judge.