In a world without the gospel, every loss is permanent.
In a world with the gospel, only the good is permanent.
And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him;
And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents.
And the king answered the people roughly, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
I finished my previous post by mentioning that Satan’s methods of influence are designed around getting immediate results. Fear and intimidation are powerful motivators, ones which cause people to do what is wanted in the moment. No doubt this was Rehoboam’s desire when he spoke so roughly to the Israelites and promised a harsh hand as their ruler.
And he is far from the only tyrant that has been willing to employ these methods. I am sure that each of us can recall times that these same methods have been used on us, forcing us to bend to another’s will. I am sure that we can also recall times that we used these methods ourselves at the expense of another.
The temptation to use fear and intimidation is powerful because they really can be effective at getting what we want for ourselves in the moment.
The people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David.
But those “in the moment” results come at a great cost. So long as the will of another is bent to your own they will hate you, and in return for their momentary obedience you sow their eventual rebellion. Rehoboam saw this firsthand.
I am reminded of an experience I had with a mother on my mission. She explained to me that she knew the church spoke against beating one’s children, but she was seeing much better results ever since she had resumed the practice. I can absolutely believe that her children fell in line for the moment, but long-term she was sowing hatred in the hearts that should love her best.
So many of us are willfully selling the love and loyalty of those we care for, simply because we have to have something right now.
And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.
After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
And Job spake, and said,
Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived.
Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted
Let that day be darkness; let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it
He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, Jesus wept.
Thus far we have discussed why it is important for us to remember our blessings, even when journeying through difficult trials. And while this is all true, I do not mean to be callous and suggest that there is not a time for mourning when we have suffered a loss.
After Jacob lost his son Joseph he refused to be comforted, and wept for the good thing that had seemingly been taken away. Job, too, went through a long mourning process after he lost all that he held dear. Even Jesus paused to weep when he heard of the death of his friend Lazarus.
Thus, when we also suffer a tragic loss it is perfectly appropriate for us to be devastated. Perhaps it is momentarily too painful to count one’s blessings, as that might feel like trying to sweep the pain underneath a rug. God does not ask us to say that the hurt does not matter, when it very much does. It is okay to be broken for a time.
But it is important that it is “for a time” and not “forever.” Eventually Jacob did take comfort in the family which remained to him, particularly his new son Benjamin. Job eventually turned from his bitterness and reached for God once more. Jesus dried his eyes and got back to doing his work of miracles. And we too must eventually accept God’s comfort, remember the blessings which we still have, and permit Him to live in us once more.
Some things in the gospel are very easy to talk about with others: grace, love, forgiveness, and peace for example. But other things are more difficult to broach, such as the element of sacrifice. Sacrifice, by its nature, means a painful experience. Indeed if there is no pain involved, then it isn’t really a sacrifice.
Yet discussing sacrifice is not only difficult because of the pain associated with it, but also because of the sweetness. Many people testify that their most sacred moments have come directly from their sacrifices. Indeed, both words have at their root the Latin term sacer, which means holy. Sometimes these moments are too private to share, and those that experience them can only encourage others to find their own.
But why is sacrifice such an integral part of the gospel? And why is pain essential to perfection? I would like to explore these questions and others with my new study, taking into consideration the root of all sacrifice: that of the Jesus Christ to redeem mankind.
In the meantime, I would love to hear about your own experiences with sacrifice. How have you known what you should sacrifice and what you should hold to? What were the effects of your surrendering? What did you receive in return for your loss?