The pain of carrying our crosses…

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Ezekiel 24:15 The word of the Lord came to me: 16 Mortal, with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes; yet you shall not mourn or weep, nor shall your tears run down. 17 Sigh, but not aloud; make no mourning for the dead. Bind on your turban, and put your sandals on your feet; do not cover your upper lip or eat the bread of mourners. 18 So I spoke to the people in the morning, and at evening my wife died. And on the next morning I did as I was commanded.

This is a shocking passage dear sisters and brothers. It was common for prophets of God to do unusual things in front of God’s people, then to explain what their actions meant – after the prophet had adequately gotten their attention. However, this particular assignment from God seems plain brutal.

God wants to show the people that he will soon take from them what they treasure the most – the temple of God. To illustrate this, God takes away Ezekiel’s wife and commands Ezekiel not to mourn. Was there a point to this action? Yes. But the fact that God would choose such a thing in the first place is hard to swallow.

Truth? We can expect to endure difficult things in service to the Lord. Hopefully, nothing as drastic as this, but there is a cost to following after Jesus. Jesus himself said that those who would be his disciples must take up their cross and follow. We too are called to endure difficulty for the sake of the gospel.

As I read this passage in Ezekiel, my heart goes out to him. I pray that, at the time, God ministered to Ezekiel in a supernatural way to give him peace as he was mourning the loss of his wife. In silence. It’s the least God could have done given the circumstances. Brings to mind some key questions this morning:

  1. Where in the current season of life am I being asked to endure difficulty for the sake of my faith? (When following after Jesus, there is always a cross before new life comes.)
  2. What grace do I need from the Lord to embrace the struggle?
  3. How am I tempted to turn back from these challenges?
  4. What person(s) are supporting me in this journey?

Lord Jesus, you never said it would be easy to follow you. In fact, you said quite the opposite. Yet, too often we are surprised when we experience struggle and heartbreak as we serve in your name. Give us grace, Lord Jesus, to endure the painful things so that we might also experience the joy that comes from serving you well and seeing lives changed as a result. We ask this in your precious name.

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