Links Daily Devotional

Suffering Friend

“…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28, ESV)

The birds are chirping, the sun rays are warming the tee box, and a blanket of dew is ready for fresh footsteps. You get to spend your morning on the golf course, but as a startling splinter, you tap in for an inglorious eight on the first hole. Your heart sinks. The game is already ruined, you think. One of your playing partners may already be secretly contemplating his imaginary winnings from your demise. But perhaps you are playing with a good friend who will say: “No worries, let’s play match play today!” How blessed is humble compassion upon the hurting soul!

But even if the match is lost, we should consider that Bobby Jones once said: “I never learned anything from a match that I won.” I suspect a careful insight into human nature is hidden there by one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Much of life is marred with suffering. A spiritual winter, toilsome work and childbirth were the first spoiled fruits of the Fall. Evidence of this plagues us today within and without. The just lot that we reaped from our treason against God is embedded in the whole affair. We suffer from physical ailments, emotional and relational strife; and even our minds have been compromised with corrupted software (Titus 1:15). It is amazing that anything good ever happens under the sun!

Of all that good, what is most excellent is that the Son of God entered into this suffering world. We only have the seemingly static word “Trinity” to describe the life-giving and abiding love of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Oh, what a magnificent womb that would be! What a velvety nest this glorious embrace would be! Yet, the Father appointed a time for Jesus to come rescue his beloved bride; and he delayed not. His incarnation into this bitter place was a holy sacrifice in itself. Why would the fount of holiness and goodness descend amidst the idolatries of men? His agony was a pure offering of love to people who would not honor him. He was left alone in his forsaken suffering, and despite his anguish our steadfast Savior stayed the gracious course. “His very silence was majestic,” wrote Edmund Clowney.

The way of love was the way of the cross. The insults were deafening, his silence was a redemptive melody. The price was unblemished blood, the currency was abysmal suffering. The ransom was an ungrateful bride, but the payment made her beautiful.

Who can suffer in such a holy way? Our sheer weakness in suffering yields even more need of his grace. Yet even in our moments of greatest despair and anger, his bloodied face shines on us, bearing the excruciating pain in our stead. His grace suffered us and unlike him, we are never forsaken.

Why did he suffer? To bring to life the most praiseworthy and loving work of all ages and all times and for all eternity. Why does he allow our suffering? Perhaps in part to continue a work of love through us, while birthing in us greater humility, compassion, and grace. And remember Bobby Jones: we don’t learn much when we win. Except maybe boasting, arrogance, and self-adoration.

Let us remember that what our Lord starts, he finishes (Philippians 1:6). The way of the cross also leads to resurrection. Perhaps your struggles on and off the golf course, as painful as they may be, are leading to a spiritual springtime, and to the good fruit of the Spirit. The Club Maker is always at work, making new and shiny irons, and forging us to be more like Jesus, a true friend flowing with grace.

Isabelle Beisiegel
April 10, 2014
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