DayBreaks for 7/23/20 – A Cure for Anger

How many vigilante movies have been made since the medium of film was invented? I don’t have a clue, but I do know this: as a general rule I like them! I love it when someone stands up for someone innocent who was hurt or killed and makes someone pay for it. I think we all cheer for such things to some degree or another.

Let’s face it: there’s a ton of anger out there on the streets and in the cities and on farms across America, and for that matter, the world. Anger about many things. Some of them are very significant, others are clearly not, yet drop by drop they add up to make us full of rage and we lash out. How much good has that really ever done? Has a vigilante who killed a rapist or murderer stopped rape entirely? Did it mean no more murderers were ever going to be committed? Silly question, right? Vigilantism never has been, and never will be, the answer for the rage inside of us.

So, what do we do with our anger? Let’s look to Jesus as he speaks from the cross about the mob that was screaming for his death and that was at that very moment, literally killing him: (Luke 23:34) – Father, forgive them – they do not know what they are doing. Even as Jesus looked into the blood-lusting, eager for death crowd, he didn’t see the as murderers. He saw them as victims of their own ignorance. He was right – they didn’t know what they were doing or they never would have done it.

When you think about it, do any of us really know what we’re doing? We move swiftly from being born to dying. We can’t figure out the answers about relationships, aging or health. We can’t get along with ourselves – let alone with others. Even Paul, in Romans 7 said: I do not understand what I do.

Of course, just because we don’t understand means that it’s okay or that it justifies mean behavior. What will help, as Max Lucado said, is “sympathetic understanding”.

What does that look like? Like lighting a candle on the darkest night, extending a hand to another soul who is as confused about life as I am myself. When we understand that none of us really know what we’re doing we can be more compassionate and gracious toward those who hurt us in one way or another. They wouldn’t do it if they really understood what they are doing and how they’ll be accountable for it someday.

Instead of punching someone, we are to help out and keep our hands extended in a giving posture rather than a fist. We are to remember that they, like we, don’t understand what we’re doing, and we respond like Jesus did.

PRAYER: Lord, we are so blind and confused. Help us to remember that those who hurt us, intentionally or unintentionally, don’t know what they are doing. Help us to have this part of the mind of Christ! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/21/20 – Purpose Behind the Pain

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From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

There are many things about the ways of God that I can’t even begin to understand.  I think that it must needs be so.  He is infinite – I am finite.  He knows all things – I know virtually nothing.  He sees all things including thoughts – I see only what my eyes behold and I fail to understand what I see.  I do not understand why little children are afflicted with leukemia and cancer, or why they are abused and mistreated by those who have responsibility to care for them.  It is all beyond me.

As I prepared for my sermon this past Sunday in which I would be talking about difficulties and trust – even and especially when we don’t understand – I was pondering the value of suffering.  I have often looked at the story of Job and wondered why it was necessary for Job to pass through such ordeals.  Job is not alone – there are many in Scripture who suffered…there are many today who suffer.  And I, like every other human who faces suffering, leap immediately to the “Why?” questions. 

I want to know the why’s and wherefore’s, like the apostles who wondered why the man was born blind, or why the tower of Siloam fell and killed 18 people.  In both of those cases, Jesus redirects their thinking from looking backwards for answers to the “Why” questions and to look instead at the present and future to try to understand God’s redemptive purpose in such events.  In the case of the blind man, Jesus said it was so the glory of God could be manifested in that man’s life.  In the case of the tower, the point was that God wanted to get us to consider whether or not we would be ready if the tower were to fall on us today or tomorrow.  Neither looked backward…always forward to the furthering of God’s redemptive purpose.

I have often thought that the purpose behind suffering was for us to understand our own weakness and lack of faith – to reveal, if you will, our own little faith and to grow as a result.  But, yesterday morning, I realized that this was a very self-centered view of suffering and its purpose.  Might not God also allow us to suffer not so we come to realize how weak our faith is, but even more to understand how faithful God is?  That view brings glory to Him – the other view is so focused on us that we might miss the very chance to bring glory to Him by trusting Him more. 

There is a purpose behind each and every pain.  That doesn’t mean each and every pain is caused by God, but simply that there is a purpose related to redemption – our own, and that of the world, in each hurt.  Let us resolve to look forward to understand how God wants to use such events in our lives to further His kingdom.

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62

PRAYER: Lord, help us to understand Your purpose for us today and tomorrow and each day for the rest of our lives.  May we not concern ourselves with questions that are too big for us to ask, let alone understand, lest we get distracted and lose focus on what is most important.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/18/20 – Time and the Lord’s Plan

Whose Plan is Better: GOD'S Plan or YOURS? —

DayBreaks for 5/18/20: Time and the Lord’s Plan

As earth-bound creatures we are also bound by time. We have watches and phones and computers and sirens and even the sun and moon mark the passing of time for us. We can’t get away from it. We often feel there isn’t either enough, or there’s too much of it. But have we really considered how it is the servant of the Most High?

We are in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the day of this writing, in our county alone in Illinois 5,904 persons have tested positive and 298 have taken their last breath. We are all anxious for time to pass and this to be over. We hope for a vaccine to put it behind us.

What does all this have to do with time and God’s plan? Consider this: imagine taking a 3 year old to the doctor and the doctor says it’s time for the child to have a vaccination. And just before the needle is inserted into the child’s arm, there is great weeping, fighting against the invasion of the needle into the tiny, flailing arm. The screaming is heartbreaking. Does the child than the doctor for that shot? No! Even the mother or father are heartbroken for what the child is going through.

But imagine, years or decades later, an outbreak of the disease sweeps across the face of the earth. People are sick and dying. But the one who was that young child does not get the dread disease because of those few moments of pain as a child. You see, the vaccine protected the child and it was only through the passing of the time that the child can appreciate what the parent and doctor did years before.

There are many things that happen to us that are painful. Like that young child we wonder why our Father put us through them, why he led us bear the pain in our lives. But know this: He never causes pain except to prevent greater pain for us. Only in hindsight can we see how these things may have saved us even greater pain and loss. Time has been the servant of the Lord in such cases.

The present pandemic, well, it is painful. But we are being taught lessons, lessons we may not even be aware of at the present. Yet there is a purpose – a far greater purpose that we cannot envision – and we have God’s promise that ALL His plans for us are for our good. Find comfort in that promise!

Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) – I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

PRAYER: Lord, we are impatient and have such limited sight into the reasons for all that happens. May we trust you so much that we can endure with patience the present pain to know that there is purpose for all that happens to us. And give us the wisdom to wait for the understanding with faith in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/11/20 – The Blessedness of the Persecuted

In This Current Situation, Consider the Persecuted Church

DayBreaks for 5/11/20: The Blessedness of the Persecuted

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010:

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness… – Jesus

Does persecution sound like something you look forward to?  Even the very word sounds painful.  I don’t know of anyone who would walk around and say, “You are fortunate when you are persecuted for doing good”…no one, that is, except Jesus.  Do I want to be persecuted?  No!  But Jesus says that if I am persecuted, I am fortunate/happy/blessed!

How can it possibly be true?  A brother at our congregation found the following and shared it with me.  I think that when you read it and contemplate it, you’ll see and agree that those who are persecuted for righteousness truly are the blessed:

When persecution comes into our lives then, according to Jesus, we must conclude the following:
That we have put our complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
That we can truly call ourselves Christians.
That we belong to the kingdom of God.
That we are righteous.
That we have been chosen by the Father and the Son.
That ours is the kingdom of God now and in the future.
That Jesus is truly our Lord and that is why we are being persecuted.
That our salvation is sure and certain.
That we are not false prophets.
That we are not worldly for the people of the world are not persecuted.
That we are in the very good company with many other saved Christians.
That we can know that we are truly born again.
That eternal life is ours.

Can there be any greater blessings than knowing these things?  Now the question is: will we live lives that will cause us to be persecuted for righteousness, or will we hide and remain invisible?

PRAYER: Jesus, we need the kind of courage you demonstrated in your lifetime, to bear persecution for the sake of your kingdom.  Give us spirits that don’t quail and quake in fear when we are confronted with the choice of living and acting in the cause of righteousness!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/05/20: The Meek Helper of God

2010 Haiti earthquake | Effects, Damage, Map, & Facts | Britannica

DayBreaks for 5/05/20: The Meek Helper of God

From the DayBreaks archive, May 2010, but very appropriate for this time in our lives and history.

Death has been a frequent visitor in the island nation of Haiti since January 12, 2010.  For the few short moments that the earth shook, and in the days immediately following, nearly 230,000 died.  Nearly everyone I met there had lost a family member or friend in the earthquake.  Because of the poverty of the nation, death has knocked frequently on the door for  every generation.  Death is viewed as our enemy – the Word describes it as the final enemy which will be defeated by the great Lord at the end of time. 

The power of God is perhaps nowhere better demonstrated than in how God can use even this enemy for his purposes.  Thomas Brooks was an English Puritan preacher and author in the 1600’s. Though he’s best known for his many books and theological treatises, we have several of his sermons in print, some of which are funeral sermons. In one funeral sermon, Brooks reminds his listeners that for the believer, death not only ceases to be our conqueror; death actually becomes God’s meek helper. He wrote: “Death is another Moses: it delivers believers out of bondage, and from making bricks in Egypt.” He continued:

“Remember this—death does that in a moment, which no graces, no duties, nor any ordinances could do for a man all his lifetime! Death frees a [person] from those diseases, corruptions, temptations … that no duties, nor graces, nor ordinances could do …. Every prayer then [when we die] shall have its answer; all hungering and thirsting shall be filled and satisfied; every sigh, groan, and tear that has fallen from the saints’ eyes shall then be recompensed. That is not death but life, which joins the dying man to Christ!”

Even the most powerful, and final, of our enemies, can be made to kneel before the Lord Almighty.  

PRAYER: God, thank you that we can trust You even in the moments of our death!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2010, 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 4/27/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

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DayBreaks for 4/27/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #22 – To Those Who’ve Lost Loved Ones

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic from Christianity Today. Today’s installment comes from Daniel Harrell, editor in chief. For our musical pairing, we introduce you to Scottish fiddler Hanneke Cassel and her compilation of joy from fellow fiddlers worldwide, “Pure Dead Brilliant Livestream Finale.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. – 1 Thess. 4:13–14

Meditation 22. 2,761,121 confirmed cases, 193,671 deaths globally.

When you’ve lost someone you love, the grief books say to make plans for holidays and birthdays and other important dates. Be ready to be overwhelmed by emotion and memories and the throbbing pain of loss.

When it came to my first wedding anniversary after my beloved wife, Dawn, died of pancreas cancer, I wanted to mark it well. Dawn and I differed on how to do this when she was alive. I was always a “celebrate the actual date” person while she was more of a proximity celebrator: Wait for the weekend and the babysitter to do it right. At the same time, right did not necessarily mean extravagant. Dawn was both Scottish and the daughter of missionaries. Doing it right usually included doing it cheap. Not me. I liked to splurge. Fancy dinner out. A show, a trip, something new, flowers and earrings, rent a convertible, dress up, make it memorable.

Dawn was usually game and always a good sport—but deep down she longed for more than any singular moment would provide. She craved continuity, integration, connection, emotion, and internality. As I read through her journals after she died, I saw she wrote and wrote about her passions and core loves, her spiritual crests and crashes—but not one single sentence about our “memorable moments,” no mention of an anniversary, birthday, or holiday. The deeper places were where the significance lay.

I remember a sermon on the Israelites crossing the Jordan in the Book of Joshua—a moment in time with potential for either transformation or tragedy. Bewildering is how much the Promised Land on the other side of the river can look just like the desert side left behind. (This is true, I’ve seen it while in Israel. It’s desert on both sides of the Jordan.) The sermon went on about our need to move forward despite the lure to turn and go back. With death and loss, there is no going back, no matter how much you’d give for just one minute more of the way life was.

Søren Kierkegaard wrote, “Our life can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.” In contrast to dreams and ideals, Kierkegaard (as an existentialist) emphasized existence: What is real and painful is more important than any ideal.

Though disposed toward despair, Kierkegaard nevertheless saw life’s hard reality as an invitation to faith. Not faith in the positive thinking or even the doctrinally coherent, but faith as that passionate commitment to Christ in the face of uncertainty, a risk of belief that demands loss of self for love’s sake. True love aims at the actual people in your life, not imaginary conceptualizations of how you believe or might wish these people should be. True love earnestly absorbs disappointments and overcomes faults as Christ has done in his love for us.

This requires a constant discipline of forgiveness. My wife wrote, “Forgiveness is agreeing to live with the consequences of another person’s sin. You are going to live with those consequences anyway whether you like it or not, so the only choice you have is whether you will do so in the bondage of bitterness or in the freedom of forgiveness. No one truly forgives without accepting and suffering the pain of another person’s sin. That can seem unfair and you may wonder where the justice is in it, but justice is found at the foot of the cross, which makes forgiveness legally and morally right.” … (Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway through the Sea #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

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DayBreaks for 4/24/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #21 – The Lord Gives and the Lord Takes

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, we return to Ezio Bosso for “Bitter and Sweet.” All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’ In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. – Job 1:20–22

Meditation 21. 2,682,225 confirmed cases, 187,330 deaths globally.

A friend and I had arrived at the monastery in upstate New York as the sun was setting over the fields and into the rustling woods. We joined the brothers for their evening meal. A little more than five years had passed since I had broken my neck in a gymnastics accident. I was still learning how to live with chronic pain.

“Don’t say that God gave you pain,” one of the monks advised over dinner that night. “Say that God can bring something good out of it.”

I thanked him for his thoughts, but I wrestled with those words for the length of my stay. In fact, those words have led me over the decades since to ask countless questions into the dark.

Part of me wanted to agree. God doesn’t make beautiful things broken. He makes broken things beautiful. God is not the beginning of suffering but its end. We have filled the world with affliction and we stumble into it ourselves; God did not make that path, but he carves a path through suffering and from suffering into embrace with him.

Another part of me differed. Does not Job ascribe both his blessings and his sufferings to the hand of God? Of course, readers of the Book of Job are privy to the heavenly deliberations preceding the calamity that falls upon his head. We know the question of causation is more complicated, and perhaps we shouldn’t build our theology around the outcry of a broken man. But there’s something bracing in Job’s directness and courage. The Lord gives. The Lord takes. He charged God with doing. He just didn’t charge God with wrongdoing.

Also, perhaps it was wrong of me, but I wanted my pain to come from God. Then it would not merely be that a purpose could be extracted from the situation. It would be that it had a purpose in the first place. In an odd way, my thorn in the flesh had become precious to me. I wanted it to be the same all-loving God who set the stars in their places who also, at just the right time, in just the right way, set my thorn in its place, too…(Click here to read the rest of this devotion.)

PRAYER: As we walk through a season of suffering, O Lord, we thank you for the example of Job. You love the seekers, the askers of questions, the men and women who stand before the whirlwind and press for answers. We know there is truth in the proposition that you do not will these sufferings, but they flow from sin and from a world broken by it. Yet we also know there is truth in the opposite. Sufferings arise in the order you ordain, the world you sustain. You willed all of time and space before it came to be.

Help us, O Lord, like Job, to sit down and mourn and lament. Help us not to shy away from seeing your hand at work in this moment. Help us to make peace with the thorns in our flesh, to weep over them, to learn from them, and always to praise your name whatever may come. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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DayBreaks for 4/17/2020: The Hallway Through the Sea #17 – Lift Your Eyes Up

SIGNS & SYMBOLS OF THE BIBLE (SERPENT ON A POLE) | JESUS WAY 4 YOU

DayBreaks for 4/17/20: The Hallway Through the Sea, #17 – Lift Your Eyes Up

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, consider Andrea Bocelli’s “Amazing Grace” in Milan. All songs for this series have been gathered into a Spotify playlist.

The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” – Numbers 21:8–9

Meditation 17. 2,016,020 confirmed cases, 130,528 deaths globally.

The journey of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan could have been short and swift. Instead, because of their own persistent disobedience, it extended over 40 long and arduous years. The people often inveighed against God. In Numbers 21, they are afflicted with serpents in the wilderness. They cry out for mercy. God tells Moses to lift up a bronze snake on a pole and invites them to look for this sign of his provision and healing whenever they are bitten.

It’s a puzzling story. Why a graven image? Why a snake? What message was God sending his chosen people?

Consider for a moment something simpler: the physical posture this required of the sufferer. Imagine a young woman dragging her weary body across the sun-scorched earth of Edom. The snake bites. Where does the young woman look? What would be, in that moment, the most natural thing she could possibly do? The answer, of course, is to look down. To fix her eye on the snake, or on the wound, or to look for more snakes concealed among the rocks.

In order to receive healing, the sufferer has to turn away from the object of her affliction and turn to the object of God’s provision…  (Click here to see the rest of this meditation.)

PRAYER: In this season, countless anxieties and agitations clamor for our attention. Help us, O Lord, to discipline our powers of attention. Help us to lift our eyes away from our passing troubles and to fix our eyes on the one who was lifted up for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DayBreaks for 4/16/20 – The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

Forty Martyrs of Sebaste - Wikipedia

DayBreaks for 4/16/20: The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste

From the DayBreaks archive, April 2010:

St. Basil was a great man of God, one of the greatest of the Church Fathers. One of his noble orations is dedicated to the memory of forty martyrs of Sebaste who were ordered by the officers of Licinius, in the year a.d. 320, to offer sacrifices to heathen idols. These were soldiers who had proven to be excellent in every respect. But Licinius the emperor issued a decree that they must renounce Christ or else their lives would be in danger. Those who refused to give up Christ were submitted to indescribable brutalities and tortures.

“The torturers were called forth. The first was ready and the sword was sharpened. . . . Then some of the persecuted Christians fled, others succumbed, others wavered, and some before even being submitted to the tortures, were afraid because of their threatenings. Some, when facing the tortures, became faint. Others entered the battle, but were not able to persevere to the end in suffering the pains, and in the middle of the martyrdom they renounced Christ.

“However, the invincible and gallant soldiers of Christ proceeded visibly to the middle, at the time when the judge was showing the decree of the king and was asking them to submit to it. Without being afraid of anything which they saw, nor losing their heads as a result of the threatenings, they confessed that they were Christians.

“These Christians soldiers were offered money and honors in order to induce them to join the ranks of the heathen. To earthly honors they would not yield. Then came threats of indescribable tortures. What an answer these Christian soldiers gave: ‘Do you have blessings of equal value to those you endeavor to deprive us of, to give us? We hate your gift because it will mean our loss. We do not accept honor which is the mother of dishonesty. You offer us money which remains here, glory which fades away. . . . We have despised the whole world. Those things which we see in the world do not have for us the value of the heavenly things which we hope and long for. . . . We are afraid of only one punishment, the punishment of hell. We are here ready to be tortured . . . for you to twist our bodies and to burn them.’

“The judge was infuriated by the courage of these brave Christians, and so he devised a slow and most painful way of putting them to death. It was very cold. He waited for the night when the wind was violent and the air freezing. He ordered these soldiers to be thrown naked on a frozen lake in the center of the town to die from freezing. There is no more atrocious and painful death than that. These Christian soldiers did not have to be forced to take off their clothes. They took them off themselves and marched on to the frozen lake. As each went, he said, ‘We are not merely putting off our clothes, but we are putting off “the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts” ‘ (Eph. 4:22). All together they shouted, ‘The winter is bitter, but heaven is sweet; the freezing painful, but sweet the rest. Let us persevere a little longer and we shall be warmed in the bosom of the Patriarch [meaning Christ]. Let us exchange all of eternity for the pains of one night. Let the leg be burned so that it may ever dance with the angels. . . . How many soldiers have died in battle remaining faithful to a mortal king, and we, for the sake of remaining faithful to the true king, shall we not sacrifice this life? . . . We are going to die anyway; let us die so that we may live.’ Their prayer was unanimous and ascended with one voice, ‘Forty have we entered this ordeal, may all forty of us receive the crown of martyrdom. Oh, Despot, grant that not one of our number may yield. . . . You honored this number because you fasted forty days.’

“In spite of this earnest prayer, one of their number did not persevere and gave in to the offers of the heathen persecutors. Great sorrow came upon the others because only thirty-nine remained in the arena of death. Their plea became even more vigorous to their Heavenly Father. Forty entered the ordeal and forty wanted to see the face of the Lord. The deserter came to the warm place prepared by the emperor’s executioners. But going from the extreme cold to the warm place, and plunging himself into warm water, he died instantly. The guard, a heathen who was watching all the developments and saw angels ministering to these saints of God, on hearing their prayers, decided to answer them. He took off his clothes and declared with a loud voice, ‘I am a Christian, too,’ and jumped naked on the frozen lake joining the thirty-nine to complete their number to forty. Thus their prayer was answered, forty entered the ordeal of martyrdom and forty saw the face of Jesus Christ. Now, whose memory was cursed and whose was blessed? We call the saints who persevered unto death blessed, indeed.”

But those who die in the LORD will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead! – Isaiah 26:19

PRAYER: For examples of faith that we can emulate, Father, we are grateful, and we pray that should our faith meet such a test, that we shall emerge victorious through the blood of the Lamb!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2020, Galen C. Dalrymple.

 

DayBreaks for 4/10/20 – The Hallway Through the Sea #16: On the Cross and the Kingdom

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DayBreaks for 4/10/20: The Hallway Through the Sea #16 – On the Cross and the Kingdom

From Christianity Today and Tim Dalrymple, 4/09/20:

The following is the latest in a series of daily meditations amid the pandemic. For today’s musical pairing, as we enter Good Friday, consider this unhurried version of the Lacrimosa from Mozart’s Requiem. 

“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:3–6

Meditation 16. 1,536,979 confirmed cases, 93,425 deaths globally.
There are four passages in Isaiah often called the Songs of the Suffering Servant. The longest and most renowned is Isaiah 52:13–53:12. Jews read these passages and hear the story of Israel itself, as God redeemed the sufferings of his chosen people to bring blessing to the world. Christians, of course, hear the story of Jesus and his suffering on behalf of humankind.

Both can be true. As Holy Week makes excruciatingly clear, Jesus was “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” He was “pierced for our transgressions,” “led like a lamb to the slaughter,” and “cut off from the land of the living,” an “offering for sin.” “After he has suffered,” says verse 11, “he will see the light of life” and “will justify many.”

As we discussed in a recent meditation, Jesus seeks not only admirers but imitators. Time and again he defines following him as dying to ourselves and taking up our cross. Even as he is a Suffering Servant, he calls his church to be a fellowship of suffering servants.

In the words of Henri Nouwen, we are all called to be wounded healers. “The great illusion of leadership,” he writes in The Wounded Healer, “is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there.” Or, better, “The beginning and the end of all Christian leadership is to give your life for others.”

The Cross is our key to the kingdom. It shows us all the truths we would rather forget. That the kingdom of God is not about power and triumph, because all the might of the world cannot heal the hearts of men… (Click this link to read the rest of the meditation.)

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The Hallway Through the Sea is a series of daily meditations from the president and CEO of Christianity Today, written specifically for those struggling through the coronavirus pandemic. It will address our sense of fear and isolation and also the ways we find beauty and truth and hope—and Christ himself—in the midst of suffering. The title of the column alludes to the passage of the Israelites through the Red Sea. We are a people redeemed from our enslavement to sin, yet we find ourselves living between where we were and where we are meant to be. Danger looms on both sides, but our hope and our faith is that God will deliver us through the sea and into the land of promise. If you wish, you can follow Timothy Dalrymple on Twitter @TimDalrymple_

PREVIOUS THE HALLWAY THROUGH THE SEA COLUMNS:

Out of the Depths

Chosen in the Furnace

The First Word and the Last

More . . .

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>