“Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him. (NIV)
Someone once told me that Blue Bell ice cream was not healthy. I slapped them in the face and said, “Satan, get thee behind me.” Well, maybe that is what I wanted to do, but of course, I just thanked them like a good pastor should 😊.
Wouldn’t it be great if those things in life that are enjoyable and pleasurable were intertwined with our God-given purpose in life? When I played football, I loved to hit people. It was so fulfilling to have a great form tackle where I explode with my helmet right under their facemask making their head snap back and lifting their feet off the ground, then driving their bodies into the ground. The endorphins are rushing through my brain even now as I think about it. Well, what if that was my purpose in life? I could just walk around and tackle people. I enjoy golfing. Wouldn’t it be great if life was just a ginormous golf course? Off the streetlamp, beaming the Cadillac, under the cop car, through the legs of unsuspecting shoppers, through the mall into the pot hole of the back-parking lot-hole in one!
Well, none of those things are my God-given life. I love teaching and preaching Scripture, but even this is not my purpose from God. I am called to teach and preach, but this is not my purpose. Preaching and teaching are the methods God has called me to use in fulfilling my purpose. That purpose is to bring glory to God in a way that unbelievers increase in their faith until they are disciples of Christ.
Jesus said that it was for this very hour of crucifixion that He had come to glorify the Father. His suffering was the Father’s glory. Not always, but many times, God is glorified most in our suffering. It would be great if bringing glory to God was always a pleasurable experience, but very often, it is through suffering. I will never forget one of the last times I saw my friend, Art Grajeda. Suffering to the point of death with cancer, Art lay in bed. But on this day, he was not wearing the typical hospital gown. He had a button-down shirt on. Sharon, his wife told me that he made them put it on him because it was Sunday and he wanted to be ready for church. Art couldn’t really talk, but he smiled as she told me.
I thought to myself how often we don’t want to go to church. I thought about how often, I am not focused in on the presence of God. My mind is not consumed with a desire to commune with God. Between the winces from the excruciating pain, Art smiled and just wanted to be in church. He wanted me to pray for everyone else. He was depressed but blessed. He wasn’t clinging to anger, but He held tight to the Anchor of His Soul, Jesus. He suffered. God was glorified, and I was touched on a deep level.
Times of suffering are opportunities to give God glory. How big must our God be for us to still hold on to Him in times of trouble! How great His love that contents our heart as others betray! How strong is He to hold us together when our life is falling apart! To God be the glory…even as we suffer.
Will this change our mindset in suffering? I don’t know, but it should. To glorify God is our purpose. We were created to exalt our Maker, the Savior of our soul. Certainly, in good times, we can glorify God, but if we abandon Him in our suffering, we nullify our mountaintop testimonies. Lord, help us to accept suffering as spiritual surgery where the Great Physician can cut away our sinful flesh as we choose to give glory to God though the pain mounts.
When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down,
but even in death the righteous seek refuge in God. (NIV)