Dear brothers and sisters,
Good morning. I guess my coughing came to its peak. I have consumed a lot of tissue papers because of my running nose. It so happened that this week is my turn to lead devotional sharing at staff prayer meeting, and we will also have a video conference with our missionary candidates at Thailand in late afternoon. I can’t afford to be sick today…please pray for God’s grace to strengthen me for this day.
"Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour"（John 12:27-29）. My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self God created me to be through every fire of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself in the fire of sorrow, He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.
We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to receive ourselves in its fires. If we try and avoid sorrow, refuse to lay our account with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life; it is no use saying sorrow ought not to be. Sin and sorrow and suffering are realities of life, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.
Sorrow burns up a great amount of shallowness, but it does not always make a man better. Suffering either gives me my self or it destroys my self. You cannot receive your self in success, you lose your head; you cannot receive your self in boredom, you complaint. The way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be so is another matter, but that it is so is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. You always know the man who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, you are certain you can go to him in trouble and find that he has ample leisure for you. If a man has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous; he has no time for you. If you receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.
When Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life - life in all its fullness,” it does not mean you will not experience sorrow. If our Lord, who is the source of abundant life, went through sorrow and agony of the cross, we will not be immune from it. A full or abundant life in Christ is a transformed life that gives us the inner strength to remain peaceful in the face of suffering, joyful in the face of difficulties, and stamina to press on in the face of failures or fear. Abundant life in Christ is not a shallow life that decorated for others to see. It is the inner strength to encounter reality of life in whatever forms (happiness or sorrow, boredom or excitement and so forth) with the presence of God in a truthful manner.
A full life is definitely not to practice a few hours of religious piety in church, or engage in some kind of spiritual dialogue in fellowship. It is a sincere and dedicated life in pursuing holiness by abandoning oneself to the hands of God, and abiding in the mind of Christ. Paul said, “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind…Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:1-2, 5 RSV). This full life in Christ is an contagious life. It will influence or impact other life. This is this kind of changed life can really changes other people’s life. Discipleship is not taught but caught. Instead of just putting people through a discipleship training course, you let others observe how you live as a true disciple of Christ from inside out. It does not mean you have to be strong and blameless all the time; you will stumble and fall in life. The key is how you press on through abandoning and abiding in the mercy and grace of God.
Love you because He is love,