Considering it all joy…in doing what can be done: Discerning the Difference Between the Difficult vs the Impossible (Easter Thoughts )A WorkPlace Devotional at Christus Highland on 4.13.17

It’s the Easter Season again. Easter is essentially about all things being made new. New Life, New hope. Joy being born of sorrow. A resurrection has occurred. We celebrate Easter with bunnies and baskets, with chocolate eggs and tasty treats. Family and friends adorn our memories and warm our thoughts as our hearts are stirred with recollection of Egg hunts and Reunions of our childhood from yesteryear. I treasure those times. I treasure the spiritual moments and awakenings too. 

So here we are on the Eve of the Day we celebrate as “Good Friday”. We work the week long, so after a manner, every Friday is good in a relative sense… unless we are pulling the weekend call duty. But tomorrow is not a reference to relative good but to the ABSOLUTE GOOD of the very Son of God entering into that process of His Labor for His glory before the world was, as His hour had now come, and our good is at hand. (John 17)

His glory was submission to the Father’s wise and perfect, yet painful and costly will… “Let this cup pass… yet not My will be done, but Thine be done” was His prayer in Gethsemane. He did not complain, He did not disdain… the very purpose of His entry into this world as Emmanuel (God with us) was to please His Father and accomplish the task at hand. He came to willingly embrace whatever the Father set before Him, and that labor involved a cruel cross. Without the cross, there is no crown. To enter back into His glory, He learned obedience through the things which He suffered as a Son. Hebrews says, “it was for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross, despising the shame…” yet now, He has accomplished all and “has sat down at the right hand of the Father.” We were His joy. We were in His heart.

The joy set before Him was His desire to please His Father by the chosen path of Life via His death. He was Life, in Him was Light and no darkness. His life and light were the light of this world of darkness in which we live. The life He pursued was for each of us who receive His gift of Love and work of Redemption. He took our place and He tasted death for each one of us so we might enter into true life, joy and true love by His perfect obedience.

Jesus endured an impossible task assigned to each of us, so we might escape the consequence of our failure by our habitual breech of Moral Law and duty. We today might know joy and freedom because of His life, and His love of even us unto His death. Yet the grave could not hold Him, for “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph over His foes… He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign!” (He Arose) That’s us. We Live! We are recipients of great joy and life because of His labor of love and resurrection over the grave.

None of us have ever worked as hard nor endured such hostility of opposition as did the Lord Jesus. He stormed the very gates of Hell by His life and death. Yet, He never open His mouth in complaint or in rejection of the assigned task. Sure He cried, “My God, My God! Why has Thou forsaken me?” in that darkest, cruel hour of divine abandonment by His Father as He hung upon the tree. But my point is that in His endurance and perseverance, He never complained, murmured nor blamed another for His misfortunes. He is our example of excellence.

We are called to live a Christo-centric ethic of life with the Lord of glory as our example or illustration of how to live life and endure hardship. The Scripture is replete with other examples of enduring hardship and of those who ultimately find joy in the process of obedience to the assigned task. Moses was given an apparently impossible assignment to lead approximately 2 million Hebrews to freedom from slavery from the rule of the most powerful dynasty of the time: The Egyptian Pharaoh world. He felt very inadequate and understaffed as He approached Pharaoh with the demands that Pharaoh let His (God’s) people go, and His life became miserable before it became better and successful. Things went from bad to worse as the Hebrew slaves were charged with the task to make bricks without straw in consequence to Moses’ meddling. This was a near impossibility and yet God provided. He always provides. Perhaps we need patience and endurance to continue doing the right thing and minimize our complaints? We need to recall the principle “what’s impossible with man is possible with God.”

In John 11, Jesus stood before the sealed tomb of a dear friend, Lazarus of Bethany. Lazarus had died 5 days earlier and now Jesus had arrived, apparently late, to the sound of weeping and the flow of tears as the sisters Mary and Martha sought consolation for their loss of their brother. Jesus wept with them. He reminds the crowd that He was the Resurrection and the Life, and that all who believe in Him would be raised again to never die. He then commences upon a path that shocks the crowd as He requests those present to remove that stone that covers the tomb of Lazarus. Despite the outcry and the fear of a stench that will surely break up the funeral proceeds, the stone is removed as the participants do the bidding of the Lord of Life.

Those present do what they can do in this assigned task. This is a difficult but assigned task in the process of glory. The impossibility portion of the process is a God work; it is not ours. The local peoples and family cannot do what now must be done. Only God can do that. Jesus commands Lazarus to come forth, and he does so, bound hand and foot. He is loosed and let go. There is life-altering authority in that One who cried, “Lazarus, Come forth!”

We cannot do the impossible; that is the business of God. However, the difficult is often confused with the impossible. God is the one to handle the impossible tasks which confront us daily. The difficult tasks are in our realm and within our reach. Sometimes the stretch to reach the assigned task hurts as we weary of the process. Remember we shall reap in due time though, if we do not lose heart in well doing.

A perspective of encouragement that I seek to locate and live by every day as I come to work is from Colossians 3. It was a word given to those who had trusted God as Savior and Lord but now continued in a life of slavery in a culture that utilized slaves. Here is what Paul said:

Colossians 3:22-24

[22] Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. [23] Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, [24] knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

This is our calling today at Christus Highland. This is our assigned task. This is our glory and labor of love. We are to do what we can, even enduring hardship through circumstances, that maybe we wish we could change. But may we never lose the true vision that we are to seek to help others and please God in daily life and practice. (And we get a paycheck to boot!) We can’t do what must be done, but we must do what can be done. We each play a critical role in the assigned task of our duty to care for self, staff and our patients. We know ours can become a problem of repetition and familiarity though. We do the same things over and over without much variation nor relief. With repetition of assigned duty, we discover the drudgery of the mundane, and tend to develop attitudes of complaint rather than see the wonder in the ordinary experience of life itself. Glory is all about us. God opened the way for us to experience excellence in this thing called Life. God also grants capacity to consider any current circumstances of difficulty as the means to establish character and joy as we learn the secret of being content with where God has assigned us today.

Bricks can be made without straw. It is difficult but not impossible. God provides. We can’t raise the dead, but we can remove the stone so Lazarus might come forth upon His authoritative command. Remember whom you serve and how He first served and loved you. Ours is to discover what we can do and ought do as we trust God to intervene in the impossible.

Death… is it negotiable?

John 11:11-13 (NASB)

This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.


Thoughts…

It is quite easy for even a novice to discover consolation, comfort and hope in this account of the death, then subsequent resurrection of Lazarus. So much truth is revealed in John 11. The curtain of God’s eternal purpose to bestow man with life is drawn back but a wee bit and glory descends to Sheol.  So much understanding is granted the one who purposes time spent with our Lord herein these pages, to “ponder anew what the Almighty might do, if with His love He befriend us.” Truth will always stand unchanged, unchangable. Life and Truth Incarnate are before us. 

“Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go to wake him.” 

Okay

Jesus apparently considers the death of his friends a relative equivalent of a power nap that transforms one by resurrection to a new vitality of purpose, energy and understanding. Our Lord manages this greatest of all physical dilemmas with ease, with grace, and might we say with disdain at the evil of Sin’s consequence. In my years as a healthcare professional I have seen perhaps hundreds die, and it is never a thing of beauty for we were crowned with life as living souls designed in His image to know Him forever in life and glory. Yet death comes, and with but a word the effectual call of the King issues forth with the inherently powerful command to grant Life to the Fallen ones. 

The allegory works in both the spiritual resurrection today and the coming final resurrection of glorification of all those in Christ. This is no small matter. It is at the heart of the King’s reparation of the Fall. It is a blow to the head that renders him powerless who had the power of death. 

Brethren, He gives us that which we need most desperately and can never obtain apart from His work and the hearing of His voice. Without exception death will defeat each of us. We might ignore it but He crept one step closer with the setting sun of yesterday. Jesus alone is Lord of life with power and authority to remedy our greatest affliction. “Except a grain of wheat fall to the ground and die it remains by itself alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit…” He died that we might rise in Him. Who else makes such a claim and then validates it by this historical event which we see today as an allegory unto life by His utterance to, “Come Forth!”?

Hebrews 2:14-15 (NASB)

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.