This morning I enjoyed reading Mark 6 again. It reminded me of how many signs and miracles the Lord performed, especially the healings. And yet, where were these ‘grateful’ recipients when Jesus was crucified!
Sadly, the influence of signs and miracles, even if administered to us personally, have a way of fleeing from us when difficult times arrive. I recall reading where Teresa of Avila…..a well-known mystic who experienced numerous visions and such….said when the torrents of suffering overwhelm us the recollection of the ecstasy and wonderment of the visions and heavenly revelations seem like far away dreams (paraphrasing here), and offer little or no strength.
The remaining 11 apostles are another example. After witnessing the most amazing miracles and wonders for about 3 years or so, and even themselves empowered to perform the same, at the end, when human confusion set in at Jesus’ arrest, they all fled…..all the past signs and miracles offering them no strength in the time of adversity.
Our strength lies in developing our spiritual life. Yet, how many came to Jesus and asked that He ‘heal’ them spiritually…..giving them the ability to love more, exercise more patience, pursue the things of God more, empower them with spiritual fortitude, etc? You guessed it…..zilch, none! Their focus was on the physical.
And, the chapter reminded me of what a difficult time John the Baptist had during his last days. He was accustomed to roaming freely in the unspoiled beauty of the wilderness, enjoying his delicious wild honey as well as (however he fixed those) locusts! Wholesome fresh air, the appealing sounds of nature. Now, here he was in what had to probably be a disgustingly foul cell of some sort and having to eat what probably had to be one of the worst of menus…..just the opposite of what was customary for him. Greater still, he was confused about what was going on and even wondered if Jesus was really the Messiah. My guess is that he came out just fine, and may very well have been magnificently closer to God at the time of his murder than ever before.
I have read of saints who gloried in heavy trials and were brought closer to God and Christ in an unexplainable, spiritual way during these times…..surely a testament of the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul and Silas are a wonderful example. In Acts 16:25, they are found singing hymns and praying to God at midnight….AFTER having received ‘many blows’ with rods, open wounds still probably stinging quite painfully with every movement, thrown into the farthest interior of the jail (i.e., the nastiest) and having their feet in stocks. Now, either they were on some heavy drugs or strange mushrooms…. or, the Holy Spirit empowered them to have this disposition. It can for us as well.
At times, God brings our greatest trial to us at the end. We need to be striving to develop the spiritual strength (faith) needed for whenever it may appear …..so that our victory in Christ will be pleasing to the Father, and give Him glory.
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