Last month in Sunday School, the children learned about the life of Abraham. They listened to Genesis 22, where God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mt. Moriah. Often talked about in this story are Abrahams’ faith and obedience, God’s provision, and God’s love foreshadowed as He gave his son Jesus to die on a cross for us.
Throughout the first week of the internship, though, I was thinking about this story in terms of sacrifice, suffering, and obedience to the Gospel. Being raised in our Western culture, the concept of suffering was especially foreign to me. Through my experiences with both World Horizons and Perspectives, I have gained a different “perspective” on suffering.
First, Christ calls us to suffer. Phillipians 1:29 (NLT) says, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.” It came as a total shock to me when I learned that so many were being killed because they were sharing the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ in places where people had never heard. In fact, they considered it a privilege to suffer and die for Christ. Wow, were my eyes opened! I suffer so little here in America.
Second, Christ calls us to daily take up our cross and follow Him. Luke 9:23 states, “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” What does this mean? For me, it meant to quit teaching and pursue missions. The Lord helped a bit in this because I became extremely ill twice and was no longer able to teach full-time. I’m so thankful for the experience because now I get to work, serve, and be a part of an incredible organization whose sole purpose is to tell the 43% of the world that has never heard of Jesus and has no access to Christian community.
So back to Abraham. Abraham had to completely leave his family and go to a strange place. Then he had to be willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, the one who was the heir to God’s covenant promise. Was God crazy? Jesus was to be descended through Isaac. But no, God was and is not deranged. He wanted Abraham to obey Him completely in all things and trust Him explicitily to provide. And, God did! I understand suffering and sacrifice a bit better now and am so grateful for those who have given everything, including their life, for Jesus.