#15 His Kingdom Come, Our Kingdom Gone

Dear Good Sam Family,

As we prepare with we give extended thought to the suffering that Jesus endured, but we know the outcome—an empty tomb. For us, this is an exercise in reflection, but for the disciples it was a testing of faith. We see what God was doing in the garden of Gethsemane, and we know the great necessity of the cross of Christ. Otherwise, we too would fall asleep and run for safety. It’s easy to look back. 

Jesus saw it coming. Luke says, “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51). Knowing what had to happen, Jesus stayed the course. A serious reflection on his suffering must account for the fact that our Lord was always looking forward, never back.

We look back all the time, longing for comforts past, wondering what might have been. Even though we have surrendered ourselves to Jesus, a season of suffering challenges our resolve and we longingly reminisce about  how things used to be. Our hunger for restoration and relief from burdens turns our heart to the past, but Jesus is only looking forward.

The Isrealites experienced this in the forty years they spent wandering in the desert. They argued with Moses, romanticized slavery in Egypt and questioning the goodness of God. They complained about the Lord’s provision, not because he didn’t provide, but because they weren’t content with what he provided. 

The paradox of suffering is that it is actually a gift – one we might like at times to give back – but a gift nonetheless. God gives us suffering as a way of giving us himself, for it is in our suffering that we become acutely aware of his presence and power. Suffering empties us of our self-reliance so that we might soak in what it means that we are children of God, chosen by God and in covenant relationship with him—the very covenant purchased by Christ’s blood.

The Israelites in the wilderness and Christ on the cross both testify that God does not forsake his people. And  they remind us that suffering is a gift from God that very tangibly embeds his promises in our daily life. Of course, we have to be looking to him to receive it as such. 

Ultimately, suffering is about learning to receive whatever God has placed in our hands as his goodness for us today. For Jesus, the journey to Jerusalem was a gift. Gethsemane and Golgotha were gifts. They were not easy gifts to receive, which is why he had to say, “Not what I will, but what you will” (Mark 14:36). And it is why he taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done” (Matthew 6:10). If we are looking for God’s kingdom come, it will also mean our kingdom gone. (Adapted from Journey to the Cross)

 Pray through the following questions:

  • What do you long for from the past?
  • How can you see God’s goodness in your present hardships?
  • What do you need from God to move forward in obedience?
Yours In Christ,
Tod