They Surrendered Their 'Rights'
"Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, 'Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which my Father has given me?'" John 18:10-11 If there was anyone on earth who was qualified to "name it and claim it," Jesus was certainly the prime example. But the bottom line in this story was that the Father had sent him to be the atonement for our sins and Jesus surrendered all his "rights" in his obedience to the Father. As human beings, we view negative or unpleasant things as things to be avoided and resisted, and positive or pleasing things as what we are to go after. Yet in many cases, that line of thinking truly misses the mark. Jesus was certainly not striving for "your best life now." He knew he was going to go through incredible suffering and pay the ultimate price in his torture and death. In his surrender, he bore the judgment forever, for all who would receive him and place their trust in him. And he paid that price - "for the joy that was set before him." "...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, WHO FOR THE JOY THAT WAS SET BEFORE HIM ENDURED THE CROSS..." Hebrews 12:1-2 "But," one might say, "that was Jesus fulfilling a one-time atoning sacrifice. Our suffering is not redemptive so we should be able to avoid it and use God's Word upon which to obtain all our demands." Oh really? Most of the apostles went on to be martyred for their faith. Not one of them named or claimed Scriptures declaring that they must be freed. The "name it and claim it" teachings are pure heresy. They lead one to make God their servant by "claiming" words from the Scriptures that he must fulfill. The first two years of my life in the Lord were characterized by the Lord's consistent insistence that only one of us is Lord, and that it's not me. To a self-willed person, that's a tough one. But the more self-willed a person is, the more necessary that he/she come to fully understand that, and to take the crown of his/her head and relinquish it to the rightful King. Do bad things happen to good people? Absolutely! This world is led by Satan whom the Scriptures call "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4). And the prime goal of Satan is to "steal, to kill, and to destroy." Sometimes the Lord delivers believers from those sufferings, but at other times he uses the situations to grow us up, all the while reminding us that this world is not our home, we're only passing through. Consider the apostle Paul, arguably one of the greatest men who ever lived. He and Silas were arrested, savagely beaten, and thrown into a dungeon with their feet bound in stocks. Now let's put ourselves into this picture. If you were out preaching the Gospel and were arrested for it, what would your reaction be? Remember that the prisons of today are not like the jails in Paul's time. There were no flat-screen tv's, no books to read, no well-planned meals served three times a day. Being put in jail in those days was a terrific suffering for the imprisoned, and often ended in death. So - what was Paul's reaction to this? Did he "proclaim" his freedom? No. He drew near to the Lord in worship and praise, singing songs of love to him. "But at midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. " Acts 16:25 Praying and singing? Singing hymns to God at midnight??? In a dungeon??? "Who for the joy that was set before them..." Friends, when you are suffering, take your situation to the Throne of Grace and seek to know God's response. It may be that he will intervene and give you mercy or give you victory, even a miracle at times. But if his response to you is that you are to endure your trial, stand before him then and ask for grace TO ENDURE IT WITH A RIGHT HEART. There are times when this exact attitude brings a miraculous intervention as in the case of Paul and Silas. Indeed, when they sang praises to God at midnight, the Scripture goes on to tell us that there was an earthquake which opened the doors of that prison, and because of it - many souls were saved that night. But Paul and Silas did not know in advance that it was going to turn out that way. All they knew was that they were servants of the most High God, and that they were being targeted by Satan because of the work they were doing for Christ. They had no guarantee of the outcome, except that if the outcome was death, they would be instantly in heaven for all eternity. Let this mind be in us also ...no matter what. We're only passing through!