If you asked me what my greatest fears are, I would have two answers for you. One is that I fear losing my loved ones. The other is that I fear excruciating pain in dying. To think about losing my daughter or husband (as well as other family members) is almost unbearable to me. I wonder how I would survive. When I think about some of the ways people have died, I beg God to spare me. And, this leads me to the book that my church is currently reading, Radical , by David Platt. I have only read the first three chapters, but already this book has served to bring these fears to the fore front of my mind. In this book, Platt speaks of Christians in other nations who daily risk losing their homes, jobs, families, and lives for the sake of the gospel.
So often when I read of those in other countries who are losing their families or their lives for the cause of Christ I ask myself would I be willing. And, then the fears crowd in. I am left just pleading that if I am ever faced with one of these things that God would give me the grace at that time. But, as I was reading in chapter 2 of this book, I came across something very encouraging. David Platt is speaking of Jesus as he is praying in the garden before he is to be arrested. Jesus is pleading for God to "take this cup from him" if it be possible. He is so burdened that he is sweating blood. Now, I have always assumed that Jesus is fearing the pain of what is going to happen. That is what I would be fearing! But, Platt sees it very differently. Jesus, knows the full weight of what is about to take place. And, he sees crystal clearly that the physical pain he is about to endure is of no comparison to the wrath of God that is about to be poured out upon him. All the wrath of God that has been built up since the very first sin and all the wrath for all the sins yet to be committed are about to be poured out on Jesus. So often I just see the side of God as my loving Heavenly Father that I also forget that he is a wrathful Judge. He cannot tolerate my sin. And, the only reason that I am able to know Him as loving Heavenly Father is because Jesus took on the punishment that was meant to be mine. As torturous as Jesus' death truly was, that was not the most excruciating thing for him. It was taking on my punishment. Nothing I will experience on this earth will ever compare to the wrath of God that was reserved for me. O what a wonderful, glorious Savior I have! Does he not deserve my full affections, my full devotion? And, here is the real clincher...when he he took on the punishment for my sins, he saved me from an eternity of being separated from God.
As I look at all the things I love in my life (my husband, my daughter, my friends and family), they would not be wonderful to me if not for Christ. I have a loving relationship with my husband because Jesus is the center of our marriage. We cling to the Word and the power of Jesus so that we, two sinful beings, can love each other well. My relationships with my family are so much sweeter because we share the common bond of Christ. I am hopeful as I experience hard days as a mommy because I can trust in the One who has all my days ordered and gives me everything I need for life and godliness. Jesus just makes my life sweeter. When I look accurately at the gospel, I see that this life on earth is nothing to be treasured. All the things that truly bring my heart joy are joyful because of Jesus. And, when I now think of having to sacrifice my life or see my loved one's lives sacrificed for the cause of Christ, I see, by the grace of God, that it is truly nothing to fear. If I were to deny my Lord here on this earth, I would be escaping momentary pain and affliction. But, through Jesus, I have escaped an eternity of pain and suffering. So, my fears were so misplaced. I should not fear afflictions or suffering here on earth. This is a sinful fear resulting from not trusting my Lord and loving things of this world. My fear should be the fear of God. I should be overwhelmed with the Greatness of the God I serve and know that he should hold all my affections and devotion. When I am fearing the one who lovingly holds my life in his strong hands, I really have nothing to fear at all.