This past Sunday at Lincoln Baptist Church, SIM missionary Don Longworth reported on the recent return visit that he, along with his young daughter, had made to Benin, Africa. It was a bittersweet few weeks with happy reunions and sorrowful reminders. The son of missionary parents himself, Benin was Don’s birthplace, but also the burial place of he and his wife’s newborn son.
When it became necessary for this young family to leave Africa, their hearts were torn. Truly they had “sown in tears,” but where was the “reaping with songs of joy” expressed by David in psalm.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” – Psalm 126: 5-6
Why does such seemingly senseless sorrow come to us?
Toward the end of his presentation Don said something most important for all believers in Christ to understand. He weighed his words carefully, his heart weighed also by the raw truth of them,
“God appoints hardship so that He can redeem it for His glory.”
We see this repeatedly through scripture…
• Of Lazarus’ death Jesus explained, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (John 11:4)
• Man born blind not as a punishment, but “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:1-6)
• God sends Ananias to anoint Paul’s eyes and gives him this message, “This man is my chosen instrument… I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” (Acts 9:10-19)
• Paul exhorts Timothy, “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2:3)
• Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet ”
• Isaiah calls the coming Messiah, Jesus, “the suffering servant”
God knows the sorrow of the Longworth’s; He too gave a Son… with great tears… but with great joy to follow.
Imagine you died in your sleep and awoke to the bliss and the glory of eternity. Imagine if, after eons of such perfection and peace the Lord Himself summons you – you out of the multitudes of the whole of the redeemed family of God – and He says to you, “I have a mission for you. Will you accept it?”
“Yes, yes,” you eagerly respond, thrilled at the opportunity, and by His very specific call to you. “What is it?”
“I want you to go down there, to that restless blue planet, Earth. I want you to be born and live among them for 70 of their temporal years. All this time you will endure pain and sorrow. You will bear this with joy, for in the end it will all be to my glory and the saving of many souls alive for all eternity. Then you will return here, to eternal bliss, and in their turn, those whom your hardship has led to Me will join us.”
“Will you accept?”
We have not yet visited eternity, but we have been visited by One from there, and He has told us He has gone there now to prepare a place for each of us (John 14:2). If He has appointed us hardship, He has appointed it for His glory, and He asks us each, “Will you accept?”
What difference might it make in your heart if you saw your hardship as a hardship appointed by God?
Check out Don’s blog at https://fellowshipofaburningheart.wordpress.com