Only Jesus Remains– 43.Christmas Suffering

by Elizabeth Burgard Fulgaro copyright 2020

Oct 22 to Jan 6 reflections from an upcoming book for tending hurting hearts at Christmas

Jesus knew what was coming. That Baby as God already knew the future fully. It is probably good that we do not. Yet, knowing this Jesus chose to endure. To walk it out. Even though His anticipation of the suffering He was to undergo eventually caused His body to sweat blood in the stress of negative anticipation! And when the suffering came it was exactly which He had known it would be.

Since already Christ suffered and through this suffering brought heaven’s victory, some would rather believe there should be no more suffering.  Christ redeemed the world! Yay! There is no more need for sacrifice!

But here is not heaven. Jesus did not die on the cross so suffering would cease, and we would enjoy our definition of the good life. One aspect of the significance of Jesus’s unjust slaughter was to let us know what we could expect. Suffering will be.

St. Paul helps us understand, that in this suffering, which cannot be escaped, because we are followers of Christ, we can join what we endure to what Jesus did. Jesus suffered obediently. He submitted to what Father allowed. No way did Father condone Jesus’ murder. He did not approve. Consider the darkness which came with the solar eclipse as Jesus hung on the cross. The earthquake at the moment of His death. The Temple curtain torn in two. God declaring His victory. At the same time expressing His wrath. 

But God being over and above worked His greatest, most supreme purposes through the enemy’s most heinous strategy. It was diabolical. The devil thought he was killing God. And he did. But God being God cannot be defeated in this way. No. Instead God rose and executed the defeat of the adversary through the adversary’s own plans. 

Suffering will be. God is weeping now with you.  And He is reconciling all people to Himself one by one through it. God Himself through Jesus manifesting that different type of power (God’s Way!) which did not come to coerce, oppress or take over by force, but to offer Himself as an instrument of love through whom God could work His best through the worst.

Healing comes with the courage to look at what always was, is and will be: the love of God for you shining in the darkness. For now, give what is wrong to God so through it He can bring His everlasting right. And along the way, you will know you are united in cause and purpose to the One you follow. God takes your suffering when you let Him and works through it as part of accomplishing His eternal, restoring, reconciling, loving purpose for all people. Justice will replace injustice. God will override evil. Life will come forth and death will be no more.

In the hard times, which will be, God wants to work through you in it for you and on behalf of others. The ones He sees. The ones He knows. To enlist you in His army. To deploy you in the battle, where He is victorious, ever-conquering King. You longing for goodness will never solely be rewarded with what you have decided goodness is. The only one Good is Father God, with Son and Spirit there with no beginning and no end. He was there at creation moving to create you as an outworking of Love. This love which by design in this realm walks with you through pain this side of heaven. Jesus’ life unto physical death and resurrection demonstrating what is and will be.

            It is dark here. Will you be emptied of all you thought was to be so that you can be a lamp with ever-clearer glass sides, which increasingly reveals and shines forth His Light? Will you submit to His often painful, transforming power at work in you so He gradually His Light shines more through you? In this way becoming increasingly one of His beacons by which He leads others home?  For that is the end goal. Where He kindly transforms each of us more into His image along the way. Then it hurts less. And our joy becomes complete because we are aligned and unified with Him.  Blessed life!

Beautiful, gentle, powerful, loving Jesus. How mighty You are. Your way beyond what I can fully grasp. I choose to rest in this.  Life as I have wanted it, is not how it is. Yet, You are inviting me to something greater. Your overriding view and purpose. The enemy of our souls is real.  And You promise.  One You have already walked out personally. You take all the enemy means to crush, kill and destroy and use it to usher in Your new creation in my heart and progressively more intimate and productive levels. And through this and each other one, Your love can then flow more authentically in this suffering, dying world unto life now and to come in love for Love, forever!

For [the Servant of God] grew up before Him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground; He has no form or comeliness [royal, kingly pomp], that we should look at Him, and no beauty that we should desire Him.

He was despised and rejected and forsaken by men, a Man of sorrows and pains, and acquainted with grief and sickness; and like One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or have any esteem for Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy].

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.

All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has made to light upon Him the guilt and iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, [yet when] He was afflicted, He was submissive and opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.

By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who among them considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living [stricken to His death] for the transgression of my [Isaiah’s] people, to whom the stroke was due?

And they assigned Him a grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief and made Him sick. When You and He make His life an offering for sin [and He has risen from the dead, in time to come], He shall see His [spiritual] offspring, He shall prolong His days, and the will and pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.

11 He shall see [the fruit] of the travail of His soul and be satisfied; by His knowledge of Himself [which He possesses and imparts to others] shall My [uncompromisingly] righteous One, My Servant, justify many and make many righteous (upright and in right standing with God), for He shall bear their iniquities and their guilt [with the consequences, says the Lord].

12 Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great [kings and rulers], and He shall divide the spoil with the mighty, because He poured out His life unto death, and [He let Himself] be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore [and took away] the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors (the rebellious).

Isaiah 53

24 [Even] now I rejoice in the midst of my sufferings on your behalf. And in my own person I am making up whatever is still lacking and remains to be completed [n our part] of Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.

Colossians 1:24

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If you are just joining in these reflections, read the Introduction here to learn what these are all about.

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Author: Elizabeth Fulgaro

I am a God-seeker--a Jesus-worshipper--a Holy Spirit follower. I create songs, devotions, prayers, books and Bible studies to give words with which to get to know God more. For you. Its for one-on-One encounter unto transformed, transcendent living. This is not my vocation. I am not professional. I am a real, ordinary person just looking to do what God put me here to do. (You have a unique purpose too.) So I am called to the work. It is not my income source, but my gift to those who find it blessing. Eagles Nest Foundation sponsors all projects for you. The result: pure, clean spiritual nutrition to feed that deep insatiable spiritual hunger which eventually overtakes each of us and galvanizes you to the life God has for you. This life is purposeful. Exceptional. You--yes, you--are called to something greater and more satisfying in His service. So it is hoped you'll try this spiritually dense nutrition and find it to be a personal blessing. However, the goodness of God-following doesn't stop there. He uses those who seek Him to be His love and care (justice, mercy, advocate, kindness) very tangibly in the lives of those around you. Not by your power but by His. His ideas. God ideas. Not just good ideas. To be part of changing the world, if you will let Him. You learn to just follow where He leads. That if you listen, He will teach you to hear His voice and then when you obey His inner promptings you will become His incredible hands and feet in this hard world. These materials will help! They will help you aim your life towards God in a way you never look back. You will not be the same. He will become the River in your desert spaces and you will become a conduit of this same River of refreshing, replenishing Water of Life to others. Find a prayer. Pick a blog post. Read a book. Be led deeper into the Bible. Select a song which resonates and use it and use it again to go close and ever closer to the God who longs to draw you near. Oh, and don't be tempted to think I'm a crazy over-spiritualized loony...My background is financial planning and counseling. Almost 40 years of it. To choose to believe in God is not to leave practicality and reason behind, but to learn that there is that which goes beyond it and includes it, unto true life fulfillment beyond all your dreams for the one who keeps seeking Him. I am a third generation Californian. I am a person to whom family means everything. The only priority higher is God. The foothills of the Sierra Nevada are my home. It is here the 1849-1856 Gold Rush is still glorified. Easy money? Actually only for the few. Even though I was raised in the Church, it took me ten years of doubting God even existed to realize that without Him, no matter how much of this life's "stuff" is accumulated, I actually have nothing. To come to know that all those who chased after gold are dead and all those who still chase stuff will be dead. That's when I became a God-seeker. Looking for that more. And Eureka! (This is California's state slogan and means I found it.) I found God...or rather, I discovered He was there and had been there waiting for me to look for Him the whole time. May you discover more of Him for you, greater flourishing life and greater flourishing for all in the world as well. God bless you! ~Elizabeth

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