Thursday, January 30, 2020

LHM Daily Devotions January 30, 2020 - Suffering—and Joy

"Suffering—and Joy"

Jan. 30, 2020

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed."

What must Mary have felt, hearing those words? Her baby is only a little more than a month old, but already the Holy Spirit is speaking through Simeon to tell what will come in the future—the anger and bitter controversy, the opposition to Jesus' ministry, and finally the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross. All of this suffering would come—it could not be avoided, if mankind were to be saved—and Mary would have her share in it, too. This was the warning.

And of course, she did have her share in it. She lived to see her oldest Son gossiped about and opposed by the religious leaders of their country. She saw Him nearly stoned after His first sermon. She knew of the public scorn and derision He endured from those who hated Him. She was there at the foot of the cross.

Did Mary understand why all this suffering was necessary? Surely, she did after Easter when Jesus rose from the dead. But before that? When Herod tried to kill the baby, when they were refugees in Egypt—were there ever days when she wondered why God would allow so much pain to come into their lives?

We do not know. But we do know that there is also suffering in our own lives—suffering we cannot understand or find a reason for. And so we ask God, "Why?" We may be in such pain that we cannot think of anything else, as Mary must have been when her Son hung on the cross. At times like that, the only thing we can do is hold on to God, trusting that there is a reason and that He will ultimately work all things together for good.

The only reason we can do this is Jesus Himself. He is the Savior who was born among us to carry our suffering and sin. Isaiah tells us, "He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief ... Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows ... by His wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:3a, 4a, 5b). By His suffering, He paid for all the sin of the world. By His death and resurrection, He gave us life.

The Bible warns us that as Christians we will share in Christ's sufferings, just as Mary did. "A servant is not greater than his master" (John 13:16b), Jesus tells us. We too will experience rejection for Christ's sake. And in the course of God's service, we can expect there to be times of great pain, times when we just don't understand what God is doing. But though we don't understand, we can trust Him, just as Mary did when she said to the angel, " Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38b) And trusting in Jesus and sharing in His sufferings, we can also hope and expect to share in His resurrection—and His joy.

THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, by Your Holy Spirit, keep us close to Your Son when times are good and when they're not. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Reflection Questions:
  1. Have you ever been party to treating someone unfairly only to learn later you were mistaken in your assessment?
  2. Do you think Mary's faith was tested when she heard Simeon's words concerning her Son?
  3. How do you feel when a family member or friend is treated unjustly and there's little to nothing you can do to stop it?

This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Minh Chau Vo. Use these devotions in your newsletter and bulletin! Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int'l LLL (LHM).
Have you ever been party to treating someone unfairly only to learn later you were mistaken in your assessment?

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