Christ Our Commander
From: Our Daily Journey
During the US Civil War, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was tasked with defending the left flank of the Union Army. Running low on ammunition and knowing that the outcome of the battle depended on the defence of their position, Chamberlain ordered his soldiers to fix bayonets and charge the enemy on foot. As outlandish as this order must have seemed, his soldiers obeyed his orders and pushed back their attackers. Through their courage, they prevented the defeat of the Union Army.
It’s difficult to understand Matthew 8 without some insight into the military in which the “Roman officer” served (Matthew 8:5). Roman soldiers were well known for their obedience. They were expected to carry out any order their commanding officer issued or face extreme punishment. The Roman officer in Matthew 8 would have been well-acquainted with this type of absolute authority.
And he recognized that this is the type of authority Jesus commands. In the same way that the officer gave orders and they were immediately carried out, so it was with Jesus. With just a word from the Savior, the Roman officer’s servant was “healed that same hour” (Matthew 8:13). Jesus demonstrated His authority even over nature, commanding waves with just a word (Mark 4:39). Like a general over his troops, Jesus’ authority over all things is absolute.
While this is certainly a humbling realization, we should remember that the mighty authority of Christ is matched by His wisdom and love for us. A general might order his troops to destroy, but Jesus used His power to heal the Roman officer’s servant, to quell the waves that threatened His disciples, and to conquer our enemies of sin and death by His sacrifice on the cross. We serve Christ—our compassionate Commander.
|June 8, 2018
Heartbroken but Not Hopeless
HEATHER KERNICK CARR, COMPEL Member
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 (NIV)
Denial is a wrecking ball. It’ll clear some space for a while, but sooner or later it’ll double back on you and then … look out.
I sat on our red loveseat in darkness, unable to bring myself to switch on the lamp. All I could think was, How did this happen?
Inside the brick walls of our suburban ranch, the rooms were still and quiet.
In the silence, denial became impossible. The emptiness I’d carried around for days split open, unearthing long-forgotten pain.
The inadequacy that scarred my childhood, and the sense that I’d never be good enough knotted in my throat. I swallowed hard as if sheer force of will could change reality.
I leaned forward, elbows on my knees and chin cupped in my hands. With my children tucked between cotton sheets, the tears spilled like a balm.
They ushered in the unmistakable moan of grief. Days before, a loved one’s choices plowed through our family. The consequences crushed a gaping hole into the family landscape and my heart.
The impact was devastating. The family I envisioned forever changed. My hopes and dreams reduced to rubble. My grief was so deep, I physically hurt.
I wonder if you would tell me I’m not alone. That you’re hiding from heartbreak, too. I wonder if you’ve felt the sting of words that can’t be taken back — or spoken at all. If your loss seems impossible to overcome.
Maybe someone you love did the unthinkable and no amount of prayer, whispered or groaned, will undo what was done.
I wish I could erase our pain. I can’t. We have an enemy who plots to distract us with disappointment and bury us alongside our losses. But I know this: God is near.
When we’re suffering, it’s tempting to believe God has abandoned us. We may mistake a faith-filled life for a life free from pain. The Bible is brimming with stories of flourishing faith despite painful circumstances.
David, a man after God’s own heart, was anointed the next king of Israel. But that didn’t happen right away, so instead of wearing a crown, he ran for his life as then-King Saul pursued him. As David fled, he penned today’s key verse: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
The Hebrew word David chose to describe God’s presence, karov, means God is close enough to touch. God is close enough to touch the hurt in our lives, too. When He does, our pain serves a purpose.
A year later, I found myself on a sofa again. I leaned in as tears flowed from my friend’s eyes. She told a story like my own. When I wrapped my arms around her, I discovered something I hadn’t noticed before. God used my suffering to cultivate compassion and strength within me.
My struggle prepared me to walk right into hers. It gave me the confidence to look into her eyes and assure her she’s not alone. If I faced this and grew stronger, she could, too.
Jesus described it this way, “Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you��ll have it forever, real and eternal” (John 12:24, MSG).
Hope sprouts in the hurt. When we face truth with God, pain becomes possibility. Heartache becomes an open door to experience God with deeper intimacy — an invitation to have more of Him, real and eternal.
If you’re heartbroken, it’s OK to let the tears fall and hand what remains to Jesus. Even in the desolate landscape of a grieving heart, hope takes root.
Dear Lord, help me accept the difficult circumstances in my life. Thank You for staying by my side, even when the hardships of life seem to have come between us. I hand You my heartache today, and I trust You to use my pain for a greater purpose in others’ lives. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
‘Broken And Faithful’
Author: Sara Groves
(as told to CBN.com’s Jennifer E Jones, 2005)
“I began building a case against God shortly after my first son was born. Everything seemed unfair. The world felt very chaotic. I had a friend who lost a baby, and a very young family member died tragically, just as he was getting his life together. It was a hard series of events.
I have nothing to compare to Job, but we all wonder why bad things happen to good people. I was trying to swallow the “sovereignty pill” and was having a hard time choking it down.
At the same time, I was exhausted so I didn’t have the reserves to fight the good fight.
I never rebelled. I served the Lord faithfully all my life. I have great parents who taught me about worldview and C.S. Lewis. I didn’t have rebellion until my late 20s, early 30s, and that’s gonna look a lot different than 16-year-old’s. But it’s still a rebellious heart.
I was really tired. I was done fighting. I had a lot of ideas about guilt, and my conscience never stopped. It was always hammering me — how I could do this or that better. I remember telling a friend, “I locked my conscience in the attic and duck-taped her mouth.” I had a year to two years where I didn’t care.
There were things that I knew were true. I would say, “I know You’re God. I know I’m a fool but I just don’t understand.”
God said, “Finally, we’re talking. This is a real conversation.”
I went to the Bible to find comfort, and I found a lot of good men who had committed their lives to the Lord, getting beat up. I used them as witnesses in my case.
I started cross-examining Job. You don’t just give a man a second family and say that’s okay. He lost his kids, and that hit a tender point with me. I was worried about us on the road. I told someone, “If something happens to Kirby [my son], I don’t think my faith would survive that.” A good friend replied, “If you can create a scenario where your faith can’t survive, then it’s not surviving now.”
My faith had been exposed, and I really didn’t believe God. He’s not working these things out for my good. It sounds too trite. How does that deal with these people and their pain?
I said to the Lord, “You have to help me believe in You because I don’t have it in me to do it.”
The Lord took me back to these men, and He cross-examined my witnesses. I found that I can tell Job all I want, “Curse God and die.” But he still stands up in the middle of this trial and says, “I know my redeemer lives.”
So I asked God what did Job know to say this in the middle of these trials? What did David know to say, “Even though wicked men prosper all around me, who have I in heaven but You? You are the strength of my life and my portion forever. It is good to serve God”?
And then there’s Paul, who’s in chains, saying everything gained — everything that appears to be good in life is garbage compared to knowing Him. It was like he told me, “Sara, I met the Man on the road to Damascus, and I want to know Him again. I want to know Him in His suffering. This is where I grow. This is where my life means something in this intersection of joy and pain.”
I had to take them at their word because I can’t change their testimony. And by the end of that year, it was my testimony as well. I was like David. “The wicked look pretty happy to me. Surely I’m keeping my hands pure in vain. But if I’d said those things out loud I would have betrayed Your children because I was wrong. Following You, doing the right thing, pursuing purity — it’s hard to understand why. But Your principles for life are good, and being with You is good.”
At the end of the day, God won the case, and I left with a great sense of urgency. All these things I thought I wanted — security, safety for my family, comfort — they’re all good things but they’re not the Kingdom. They’re not the whole story that God is telling.
I don’t want my kids to see me here full of bitterness and cynicism. I want them to see me passionate about the Gospel even if that’s dangerous. I want them to see me walking in faith. I want to serve Him, saying, “I’ve swallowed the sovereignty pill, and You are sovereign.”