We are not “acquainted with grief” in the same way Jesus Christ was. When illness, injury, or affliction strikes us…we suck it up, endure, and just live through it, waiting for it to end. But Jesus faced sorrow head-on…knowing intimately what it was to suffer. He very plainly explained to His disciples in Luke 18:31-33 how He would be mocked, insulted, spit on, flogged, and killed…personally taking on and experiencing all the pent-up evil of this world. We taste suffering and sorrow…but Jesus is intimate with them.
For many of you today this Scripture may be difficult to accept. That’s because today you’re right smack-dab in the middle of trials, suffering, loss, injury, or sickness…and the idea that any light and momentary trouble is achieving in you eternal glory that far outweighs any trouble you’re going through is just a little too hard to take. (II Corinthians 4:17) Or that you should be rejoicing that you can participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. (I Peter 4:13) In this verse God is not discounting your suffering…your loss…the traumatic experience you’re going through right now. Rather, He understands and He’s giving you the grace and endurance to persevere through it.
In these verses Jeremiah is dejected and overwhelmed by the suffering he is witnessing in Jerusalem. In his head he was acknowledging God’s sovereignty…but he was still confused and disheartened by all the destruction around him. We’re the same way in the middle of trials. We know that God is there and in control…but when we’re overcome by it all, it’s hard to remain rational. Jeremiah was honestly laying all his feelings, concerns and complaints before his Heavenly Father, knowing that God would listen and not judge. And today we too have that same opportunity to speak candidly and openly to God without fear of retribution.
Jacob had worked for his father-in-law, Laban, for 20 difficult years. But despite all the wrongful things done to him, Jacob knew God was watching over and defending him. We sometimes feel like God doesn’t see the injustices inflicted upon us…or the suffering we’ve endured at the hands of others. But He does, for God is with us not only in everything we do…but He also sees all the injustices that have been done to us. We just need to remember that the battle is His, and He will defend and vindicate us.
The only way you can become really good at something is to practice…whether it’s a sport, a musical instrument, or a newly discovered talent, without practice, it’s just wishful thinking. Today, this Scripture wants us to take a new and different attitude when faced with the trials in our lives. It wants us to consider trials as practice. Every time we’re put to the test, we need to realized it’s a God-ordained crucible in which we are being purified. In other words, trials equal refining…trials equal developing patience…trials equal suffering in the faith…trials are a chance to practice what we preach.
If you’ve been in any form of the military, or defended your country in any capacity…I want to personally thank you for your service. For I know many of you have never been recognized and appreciated for what you did. It takes a certain character make-up to be a good soldier…a certain firm stand and persistence to face adversity day in and day out…a certain firm determination to get the mission done. By the time Paul wrote this second letter to Timothy he was well acquainted with the life of a soldier…for he wrote this letter from prison. So Paul couldn’t help but watch the Roman soldiers as they worked around him…drawing inspiration from their mindset and resolve. This is why he exhorted Timothy to be a good soldier…enduring hardship, fighting the good fight, and holding on to his faith until his mission was accomplished.