Perfect Words in Hard Times

Circumstances are the expression of God’s will

Bishop Handley Moule

The beautiful dichotomy of preaching while being persecuted frames Jesus’ training of the disciples as He sends them to preach the gospel and expect great suffering. It wasn’t “if” they suffer, but “when” they suffer, that they should “fear not” and keep sharing the good news. Through His example, Jesus was showing His followers that no degree of persecution should ever slow down or halt the gospel from advancing to the ends of the earth. The strength of God’s Word penetrates through the hateful, evil schemes of the enemies, speaking truth and bearing witness to all (Mathew 10:20). The road of the laborers in the readied harvests was paved with God’s powerful Word and a lot of suffering. The blood of the martyrs are testimonies to the truth of the gospel. Christ’s own death and resurrection stand as the ultimate examples of the One who didn’t stop preaching even while relentless persecution drove nails through His hands.

If Jesus was preaching even while persecuted, then hearers are invited to learn even while suffering. Surrounded by crowds, Jesus extends a compassionate invitation to the tired and broken souls: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). The imperatives “come”, “take my yoke,” and “learn from me” are followed by the promise of rest. The great exchange (sin for forgiveness, death for life) happens only in the presence of Jesus, between surrender (come) and growth (learn). Transformation begins with submission to Christ and continues through the renewal of our minds. And suffering has certainly been a catalyst, not an obstacle, to the message of the good news.

Jesus values the Word brought to a tired soul because it has life and power (John 6:63). “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus invites us to surrender ourselves in our darkest, hardest, most painful moments…and attach ourselves to Him to learn the heart and mind of God through the Scriptures. His tender ministry to broken and suffering Christians is through the teachings of His words. To be yoked with Jesus and carry His light burden is to be taught through the Bible in our sufferings, too. Our souls, as they struggle to live in pain, do best when they dive into the pages of the Bible and wait to find that rest that Jesus promised. And divine peace is sure to find us, for the promise still stands in our century, that “great peace have they which love thy love” (Psalm 119:165).

Spiritually, the past three years have been my richest and most transformative years. Not because I’ve accumulated an extensive head knowledge, but because I’ve thrown myself into studying of God’s Word with more passion and surrender even when I was hurting the most. It feels counterintuitive to read and study the Bible when life is under a thick darkness of pain and trials. And yet, God’s words know exactly how to penetrate through thick darkness and deep human brokenness. From the splendors of Creation to the ugliness of Crucifixion—the Word-made-sound-and-flesh broke through emptiness and brokenness and brought beautiful, eternal life. In the depths of trials and suffering, the canopy of God’s words invites us to take and read, open and study. Jesus kept preaching through suffering and dying. He thought it eternally impactful to bring the Bible in our trying pains. And though we may never fully understand the mystery of embracing the Scripture with our hurting minds and hearts, may we trust Christ’s invitation to bring His words into our suffering: His rest will surely find us soon.