The Christian Life: Sorrows, Griefs, Battles, and Victory

My current header picture is a rendition of Jesus’ wilderness’ temptation. It depicts, I think rather well, who the promised ‘Man of Sorrows’ would indeed be. It reminds me of the famed Messianic text of Isaiah 53:

53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

American, and Western Christianity in general, do not fellowship in sufferings; we do the opposite. We attempt to live a life of façade wherein we jovially smile and shake each other’s hands in the narthexes of our local churches. We pretend like the rest of the culture that we’re all put together, and that life is upwardly mobile. As Arthur McGill has called it, we attempt to be the ‘bronze people,’ with our bronzed bodies, and white veneered teeth. But in reality, the Gospel says that as we are participants with Christ, that we will constantly be given over to His death that His life might be made manifest in our mortal bodies. The Apostle Paul said:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, 11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3)

We’re in a spiritual battle. The ancient church recognized our stead here in these bodies of death as being the church militant. We wrestle against the principalities and powers, not because we’re special per se, but because we are participant in the life of Christ; a life characterized by sorrow and grief. As Christians when we step up, and are willing to enter the fight, particularly by living righteously and bearing witness that Jesus is Lord in all that we do, we step into this stream of spiritual warfare that is going on all around us every minute of everyday. And yes, we are on the triumphant side, but that doesn’t mean we don’t experience the serious heat of the armory we are facing as soldiers for Jesus Christ.

When Christians feel the pressure to hide what they are being assailed by, because they are genuinely Christians, it makes everyone feel isolated and alone. Instead we ought to be transparent about the battles that are pressing in on us, and thus come to have the capacity to bear each other’s burdens, by the Spirit, just as the church has been intended to do from its inception. We do ourselves no favors by living fake Christian lives, as if what that entails is ‘living our best lives now.’ That anecdote is about as antiChrist and demonic as it can get. We are living for Christ and His Kingdom now, and that involves the very types of things Jesus endured as He was in the wilderness for forty days, while He was on the cross feeling as if the Father had forsaken Him. Be in the fight, Christian! The LORD never disappoints.


2 thoughts on “The Christian Life: Sorrows, Griefs, Battles, and Victory

  1. Came across this this morning. Appropriate.

    “Today among Christians there are also new Stoics who consider it a fault not only to moan or cry but also to be sad or worried. But these paradoxes, of course, generally come from people who, having more practice with speculation than action, are not capable of doing anything but supplying us with such paradoxes. But we have nothing to do with that iron philosophy, which our master and Lord condemned not only in words but by his own example. After all, he lamented and cried over his own hardships and those of others and he instructed his disciples no differently. ‘The world will rejoice,’ he says, ‘but you will grieve and weep’ (John 16:20). And to prevent anyone from turning it into a fault, he proclaimed with an explicit declaration that those who mourn are blessed (Matt. 5:4). It is no wonder, because if all tears are forbidden, how will we judge the Lord himself, from whose body dropped tears of blood (Luke 22:44)? If all fear is branded as unfaithfulness, what will we make of that terror with which, we read, he was severely dismayed? If all sadness is displeasing, how can it be agreeable that he confessed that his soul was sorrowful to the point of death? (Matt. 26:[37–]38).” – Inst. 3.8.9

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