‘Yet for your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered’ ~ Psalms 44:22
From the time we are born and especially when we become born again, we should be welcomed with Jesus’s words, ‘In this world, you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). If we had known what awaited us in our life, we would like Job say, ‘I wish I had died before any eye saw me. If only I had never come into being’ (Job 10:18). You see, Job had lost all his wealth, all his children died and was afflicted with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head, that he was moved to say, ‘I hate my life’ (7:16). On occasion we feel this way as the weight of the world presses on us and never seem to lift.
Jesus Christ joins our earthly pilgrimage and comes into the world knowing too well that He was a sheep headed to a slaughter. As Isaiah (53:7) prophesied, Jesus knew that ‘he was led like a lamb to the slaughter…’. He knew that;
- His life would be under threat the moment He was born
- He would become a refugee in Africa for a while
- His own people would reject Him
- He would face numerous opposition
- He would be tempted by the devil
- His close friend would deny Him
- His ally would betray Him
- He would be mocked by ruthless soldiers
- He would be accused, tried unfairly and ashamed publicly
- He would be sentenced to the worst form of capital punishment in history- crucifixion
If I knew that I would face all the above before coming to the world, like Job, I would opt not be born in the first place. But Jesus, unlike us who had an option, chose to come into a world full of trouble and face these hardships for our sake. Him, being God did not minimize the pain He experienced because even though He was fully God, He became fully man (yet with no sin) and experienced pain and other emotions as we would. No wonder the tears he shed, no wonder the anguish he felt, and no wonder the joy he exuded.
As we make our way through life like sheep being led to a slaughter knowing that we will encounter small or big tragedies this day or the next, it becomes hard to keep still and even believe. Jesus, knowing what awaited Him during His time on earth maintained a peaceful demeanour. It may seem unrealistic to us who, when the storms of life rage, throw us in every direction and make us hit all kind of debris- breaking our hearts, wearing down our bodies, and crushing our spirits.
Jesus, knowing and experiencing first-hand what we are bound to go through promises us;
‘I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you’
‘But the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things…’
‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give as the world gives…’
(John 14: 18, 26, 27)
The world might give a sense of peace, but when the storms of life come that ‘peace’ is swallowed up and only God’s peace can remain, a peace which endures and overcomes the trials of life. Job’s three friends who had come to comfort him receive judgment from God who tells one of them, ‘I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken of me what is right’ (Job 42:7). Such worldly peace and comfort from friends and things can be erroneous and only the Comforter, the Holy Ghost can give us peace- the right kind of peace and comfort.
I attested to this when sometime last week I went through a rough patch and God gave me incredible peace. Instead of reacting as I normally would in tough situations, I felt a peace that was unusual to me. After a few attempts to ‘reverse’ the peace, I knew it was the Comforter, God’s peace, the ‘peace which transcends all understanding’ (Philippians 4:7). The peace that made Jesus to sleep in a storm, the peace that caused Peter to sleep in prison, the peace that caused Stephen to see the glory of God right before he was stoned, and the peace that caused Horatio Spafford to pen the hymn, ‘It is Well with My Soul’ when his four daughters died at sea.