Sometimes the cost of surrender seems too high and we should cry out for His mercy.
As prayed by Jeremiah, "I know, Lord, that a person's life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course. So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle." (Jer. 10:23-25 NLT) At times we will want to give up when life feels anything but "gentle." But as we mature as warriors and lovers of Christ, we come to realize there is no "Plan B" - no other choice but to follow Christ gives us the internal peace for which we long. The core challenge then is to patiently trust our King's good plan in the midst of suffering: "We give great honor to those who endure suffering. Job is an example of a man who endured patiently. From his experience we see how the Lord's plan finally ended in good, for he is full of tenderness and mercy." (James 5:11 NLT) "Yes, and the Lord will deliver me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly Kingdom." (2 Tim. 4:18) And God promises to be with us in the midst of our suffering, to hold us in His mighty arms - for "I am with you always." (Matt. 28:20) "Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? ... No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." (Rom. 8: 35, 37)
The Story of Redemption. God's good plan for us is to transform us to "become like his Son, the firstborn with many brothers," and this process often is painful - it's a battle for our hearts, minds, and souls! As we surrender to Him, our God is sanctifying us, transforming us to become a true brother of Christ, so that God's reason for creating us will be fulfilled and He can bestow his glory upon us. And all the hardships in life that may have been meant for evil by Satan will be turned to good by our rescuer, our deliverer, our lover, and our redeemer!
Living in Freedom. We now must claim the victories that already have been won: Because of what Christ did on the cross, any condemnation about who we are or about sins that we have committed is a lie from the pit of hell. (Rom. 8:1) The price for freedom has been paid in full! So now we have been called to live in freedom - Not freedom to satisfy our old sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. (Gal. 5:13) That is our mission - to love God and others well! Love always wins!
This life is a temporary assignment. "For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come." (Heb. 13:14) Of course we look forward to heaven - our true home - where there will be no more pain, or suffering, or loneliness. Here on earth we are strangers in a foreign land, but the ending to this larger story has been written: "He will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. For the old world and its evils are gone forever." (Rev. 21:4) We are not yet home, but enduring the pain today and being patient for His deliverance is worth it: "For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever." (2 Cor. 4:17)
We don't want to miss out on a mission, life, and legacy that will echo throughout eternity. We want to finish well and be able to say, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me..." (2 Tim. 4:7) We do not fear death, because we will finish well and thereby live out the purpose for which we were created and receive the prize that awaits us. Because of our decision to totally surrender to Him, we are confident that "the day of death is better than the day of birth." (Eccl. 7:1) We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ our King and have sworn an allegiance to follow Him - no matter the cost. "And so, since God in his mercy has given us this wonderful ministry, we never give up." (2 Cor. 4:1) And we look forward to the great celebration and reunion that awaits us on the other side - where we discover that all of our suffering here on earth was not in vain! As asked by Paul, "You have suffered so much for the Good News. Surely it was not in vain, was it?" (Gal. 3:4) For the Band of Brothers, we will confidently respond, "Our scars were not in vain!" Join us! ... And let's "unite the clans!"