Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Victory of the Cross

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. II Cor 12:7-10.

I suppose no one really enjoys suffering, Even the Apostle Paul asked for the external deliverance from the thorn in the flesh that was torturing him. Brother James asks us to CONSIDER it all a joy when we are tested, but this is not the natural response to an unpleasant situation. Honestly, we all have suffered, and our first response is not to consider it all joy. No, like David did so many times, we cry out for relief. The Lord's response to Paul - "Let's leave things as they are, brother Paul". For the "testing of our faith produces patience" writes James, so we are left powerless, clueless and seemingly abandoned. Except of course, we are not left alone, as our Lord is always with us, even to the end of this age.

There is ALWAYS victory for the believer. Sometimes, the Lord works a miracle and our cross is, for the moment, removed. But far more often, the Lord would just let us learn the principle that brother Watchman Nee learned many years ago: When difficulty arises, we only ask one thing - How much of me has been lost, and how much of Christ has been gained? Once Paul learned this lesson, his experience shared in Romans seven no longer bothered him, for he saw the value. The old outer shell is burst, and "rivers of living water" gush forth.

The message of the cross is that the victory we have in Jesus is always first of all an internal eureka moment when we "count it all loss" that we may gain Christ. Sometimes that mountain in front of our faces will move once we have come upon this revelation, sometimes not, but the victory comes when we realize that it no longer matters.