Psalm 118: 29, Romans 8:37
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”
Adam Hamilton points out in his book 24 Hours That Changed The World that Jesus and the disciples probably sang Psalm 118 at the end of the Passover meal before heading to the Garden of Gesthemane. He also writes, “Singing praise to God in the face of adversity is an act of defiance toward evil. It is also an act of trust in God, one that gives strength, peace, and hope (pg. 42, 24 Hours That Changed The World, 40 Days Of Reflection).” It takes tremendous courage and faith to believe in what we cannot see at the moment when that belief costs us pain, loss, and even death. Jesus “for the joy set before him, endured the suffering of the cross.” Christians through the ages have endured tremendous suffering and death while loving their enemies, loving their neighbors, and serving the poor in the name of Jesus . They kept going because they had faith that the Kingdom of God would one day rule over all creation again.
This part of Jesus’ story reminds me of the story of Father Maximillian Kolbe who offered himself to the Nazis for torture and death in a concentration camp to spare another man who had children to look after. He, along with others, were sent to the starvation bunker to slowly, painfully waste away. The Nazis fully expected the prisoners to begin crying out, to begin fighting, and even to begin eating one another as had happened to many others in that bunker. Instead, each day they heard praying, the recitation of Scripture, and singing until all of them died. There is great power when God is praised in the face of death!
We know that suffering of some sort is inevitable. For Christians, the choice we have to make is whether we will face it with faith in the resurrection power of Jesus or not. Do we believe that the living Christ will bring the fullness of the Kingdom on earth, in our lives as it is in heaven? Do we believe in his promise that when he returns “death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more (Rev. 21)?” Do we believe that “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8)?”
When it is our turn, may God give us the grace to spit in the face of death with great confidence in Jesus’ resurrection power to bring eternal life! And as we work with others who suffer, may God give us grace to share this faith, hope, and love with them!