24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:24-28 NIV)
Human wisdom sends out a constant, subconscious message that if we do everything right, all life with be good. But this is not reality and when we experience the opposite, it is hard. When beyond hardship we encounter evil, our world can begin to crumble for God did not create us for evil, but for good and we cannot make sense out of that which we are experiencing. As more happens which doesn’t seem to make sense, we can be tempted to crash and burn…
Last week as I walked and listened to the Lord, looking for whatever He would have me see, He whispered a powerful reminder. The wounding Jesus received on the cross is still there. The nail scars on His hands and feet have been part of who He is since the crucifixion.
God has used all that Jesus suffered for extreme good! (By His wounds we are healed from the sentence of death so that ALL who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord and His sacrifice for us on the cross will receive the gift of eternal life.) Yet when Jesus rose from the dead, the wounding He received was not gone. It remained. Thomas put his finger where the nails had been.
Jesus the King of heaven and earth was wounded for our transgressions. We need to be reminded that suffering is a part of life. Often, but not always its source is evil. It grieves us; it wounds us. But God will redeem it. If we will keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, contemplating His promises (who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross), He will lead us through it, and use everything for eventual good in light of His eternal plan. Eventually the pain from where we have been wounded may be less, or even fade away, but the scars will remain. They are part of our sacrifice.
If we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us lay aside bitterness and forgive (again and again), without condoning that which was wrong, we will receive a great blessing. Our sufferings will be joined with those of Christ. As Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. “ (John 15: 18-19 NIV) and “22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. “ (Matt. 21:22 NIV) We may be battle-weary and scarred, but He enables us to dwell in the peace and joy of the ever-present, promised and eternal victory of our King.
This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (Acts 2:23 NIV)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa. 53:5 NIV)
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. (1 Peter 3:13-18 NIV)
…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Heb. 12:1b-3 NIV)
Elizabeth Fulgaro is a wife, mother, writer, inspirational speaker, worship leader, composer, singer & recording artist. She is also a Certified Financial Planner and Accredited Financial Counselor with a heart for helping Christians understand and steward their finances God’s way.
For books, worship cds, Bible studies and teachings written by Elizabeth Fulgaro or to schedule her to come speak to your group please visit www.holyspiritpress.org Worship music audio clips can be found at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/ElizabethFulgaro
Elizabeth is the Founder of Eagles Nest Foundation which provides spiritual support & encouragement to military and military families as well as those in physical and emotional battles (such as cancer, long-term illness) as well as those grieving a loss. (A current outreach is The Japan GRIEF Project.) For information visit www.eaglesnestfoundation.org
Eagles Nest Foundation is a 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible. Thank you for your prayers and support!