What's the worst thing in the world that can probably ever happen to you? Hmm... excluding the possibilities of dying for extraordinary reasons like jumping off a 20-floor building or a billboard pole, or being intimately related to someone who did such, or maybe a parent losing a child. Personally, I think one of the most painful things is to be blamed for something you didn't do and to deal with terrible punishments not meant for you.
Just recently, I got to experience this "thing". No matter how much I tried to prove myself not guilty, I was still seen as wrong. My esteem plummeted to ground zero and I felt like the worst person on earth. This feeling is very different from when we face the painful consequences we know we deserve.
Here are some realizations:
1. Jesus Christ himself was blamed for blasphemy (when he was telling nothing but the truth) and because of this he was made fun of, spitted on, insulted and crucified. My own experience was already painful. But knowing that his was way worse, I'm speechless.
I got to fully appreciate the meaning of 1 Peter 4:13 on that very day. “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” It's indeed a comfort to know that we are not alone on this journey. As we choose to follow Christ by faith we " do not conform to the pattern of this world" anymore. And I believe there are other participants also of this race. Racing through life the noncomformist way entails suffering and this is a norm for Christians. To suffer as a Christian is a call to rejoice as a disciple of Christ, and such joy is the prelude to the joy that is to come at the return of Christ.
2. There is really a serious spiritual warfare going on. This incident happened a day right after the sharing I had with my small group. When Lilias Trotter became a missionary in Algeria, Africa, she observed that for every spiritual breakthrough, there is an spiritual attack. A predominant example was that new believers were being influenced negatively by locals as their foods and drinks were sometimes being induced with drugs.
3. God allows these experiences to happen so that we can continue to develop and mature. ".. We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:3-5)
From the human perspective, we really can't see any good in being imprisoned or thrown away for something we're unjustly blamed for. But look at what happened to Joseph (son of Jacob), he was sold as a slave, blamed for raping the wife of one of Pharaoh's officials and then imprisoned. It's amazing how God led Joseph's life, from being a prisoner, he was set as the right hand man of Pharaoh. No step in between. Imagine that?! He didn't have any actual work experience in government or any political expertise to back him up, all he had was God.
I think God could have chosen to let Joseph free two years earlier from prison, but I guess one reason why He had him stay was to produce in him a growing perseverance, character and hope.
How did Joseph see his adversaries? Let me quote him, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." (Gen. 50:20)
4. I felt like a mess when that "thing" happened. But I'm glad that when we are (AND we believe that we are) in Jesus' care, we end up victorious. By God's grace, we will be able to testify to both believers and nonbelievers as we turn a mess into His message. The worst thing is not the end to life, for God's will is good, pleasing and per.. wait for it, wait for it, perfect.
Let's press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus!
Happy Father's Day to our Father and King! :)