God Turns Bad Things Into Good News

Years ago, my youngest son played the role of Jesus in his school’s pre-school rendition of the triumphant entry into Jerusalem. As he walked down the hallway, the other school children waved palm branches and shouted, “Hosanna, Hosanna. Jesus is coming!”

As I reflected on this scene being acted out, I thought to myself this week, “What if God asked me to do what Mary did?” Mary birthed a child she knew would die so that God’s plan could go forward.
Such a sobering thought. Honestly, I do not know what I would do. I’m not that obedient or trusting. I hesitate. I stumble. And, like my son said the other day, “I’d probably be like Gideon and lay some fleeces out first.”

Good Friday. Such a dark day in history yet marked with so much light. Light, because good was going to come out of what took place on the Cross. I watched a show last night about what took place in Rome during the years right after Jesus’ death. It was brutal. What the Romans did to Christians made me sick. I mean, their actions coined the phrase, “Roman candles.” They would literally tie Christians to posts along the street, douse them with gasoline, and light them on fire. Think about that every time you hear or talk about fireworks and the elusive “Roman candle.” They weren’t hung on the posts because they were criminals or out to get the government. They were hung and murdered on the posts simply because they were Christians.

In America, we face nothing like that, and perhaps this is why Christianity is so complacent here. We really aren’t putting anything on the line to follow Christ. Sure, there are a few who have been sued, lost jobs, or are facing business backlash, but the majority of us, we quietly live out our days without fear to identify ourselves as Christians. Is it in our comfort that we forget discomfort? George Whitefield once said, “…that we must be despised before we can be vessels fit for God’s use.” The Christians in Rome in 67 AD indeed were despised. God used them to grow the Church and to give us the New Testament.

Jesus certainly was despised in the few years of his earthly ministry. He was hated so much they killed him, too.

As I look at the Cross today, I wonder to myself if anyone despises me? Being despised, I don’t think, is a ticket to go out and start speaking ugly to people (certainly Jesus nor the early Christians did this…nor did evangelists like George Whitefield), but it is standing firm to the Truth of who Jesus is and what I believe. It’s being despised because I refuse to react to people as they might be acting toward me. It’s being despised because of the things I will or will not do. Am I despised enough to be a vessel in which God can use?

Honestly, I do not know. I want to think the answer is “Yes,” but I don’t know. I think I am still holding back and hanging on to comfort. And, I know that is not what God wants for me.

This Good Friday has me reflecting on not only Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, but also on God’s sacrifice, Mary’s sacrifice, the sacrifice of the disciples, and the sacrifice of followers of Christ who have walked this earth every day since. If the Bible were being written today, would my name be worthy enough to be placed in Hebrews 11? This list wasn’t put there for us to admire their accomplishments; it was placed there to motivate us to do the things God has specifically called you and me for.

Mary watched as Jesus died a slow death on the Cross. I cannot imagine. I know many mothers who have watched their children die, and it must be one of the worst things imaginable on earth. But, the Cross was necessary. The bad thing was required for God to bring about good for those who would choose to love Him. It's a promise found in Romans 8:28. Jesus’ death was not for nothing. And, our born-again lives are not for nothing as well. We must make them count because the next time Jesus comes, there will not be a bunch of people waving palm branches as He rides in. He will show up unexpectedly on a horse to finish God’s business. There is much work to be done between today and that day.

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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