Who Am I? Part Four

John 3: 16 – 18

As the Apostle John came to realize Jesus loves us in our despair (John 19: 26).

The morning following the night of trauma in the upper room their dilemma turns to despair.  Jesus is crucified. Their eclipse seems permanent.

Standing there watching Jesus die on the cross is John who has devoted three years of his life to following Jesus. How is he going to think of himself? Perhaps as a foolish person for devotion to a rabbi who is dying as a common criminal. Maybe He saw himself as a defeated individual. 

John, look closely at that cross causing your despair. It is no cause for doubt. It is a reason for reassurance. It reveals the boundless love of God “who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all.” Love is most convincing when it involves sacrifice. Here hangs the most conclusive evidence of love. In Jesus’ own words hear it: “Greater love has no one than this, that He lay down His life for a friend.”  Jesus did that and more. He died for us when we were “yet enemies.”

In light of this John once again identifies himself as “the disciple whom He loved…”  That was his preoccupation. It gave him a sense of purpose even in the hour of his greatest despair.

The fact that something bad happens in your life does not necessarily mean God is angry with you. It may only be a step in the right direction He is leading you in order to ultimately bless you.

The young theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, suffering in a Nazi prison camp, scribbled a noteworthy note on a scrap of paper. It read: “Only a suffering God can help.”  Because Jesus suffered on the cross He alone is equipped to help you. The writer of Hebrews tells us He can sympathize with our weaknesses. The word “sympathy” comes from two Greek words, “sym pathos,” meaning “to suffer with.” Because you are the object of His love He suffers with you and is able to help you.

When the next occurrence comes along in your life when you tend to despair, how are you going to respond? Perhaps in one of two ways:

The Ostrich Technique.  Most people have some defense mechanism for dealing with despair. Perhaps yours is to do as the proverbial ostrich and hide your head in the sand. Incidentally, ostriches get a bum rap, they don’t really hide their heads in the sand. However, if we do as they are alleged to do and withdraw from reality we are denying the truth in our lives, becoming passive, indecisive, and numb.

When you acknowledge yourself as one loved by Jesus Christ and rely on your spiritual resources, you can do the same with your despair. The process of covering is accomplished by applying God’s Word.

The Oyster Technique. When a grain of foreign substance gets in an oyster it becomes an irritant. If the oyster can’t expel it, work is begun on it to transform it for good. The oyster begins very gradually to cover the source of irritation with its very best substance and almost without notice makes it a pearl. Apply God’s word to your dilemma. It is the better of the two techniques.