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The Suffering of the Messengers

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Greetings Narrow Gate,

Whew, what a week. I'll keep the health update brief. I have bruises that look like tattoos. Thursday was the low point, I went backwards in pain and energy. Bruises and almost a jaundiced look seemed to bubble up from inside my body. Coughing hurts, but sneezing seems to stop everything because the pain is so great. It takes me 10-15 minutes to recover from a sneeze. However, I am improving every day. I started walking 20 minutes a day two days ago. It's not as brave as it sounds. I then promptly shower and take a nap.

Let's pickup with where I last left you: Despite all of this,

I am blessed! That is as close as I have come to death, yet I'm alive. As a child of God I see many incredible blessings from God during this accident.

* My daughter was not in the car

* I did not hit my head or lose consciousness

*I did not go into shock

* The EMTs, ER staff and hospital staff were a blessing all day long. Absolutely wonderful.

* I am home already when many thought I'd still be in the hospital. 

These are just a FEW!

As I begin with a brief message for you today, I am drawn to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's classic, The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer was a German-Lutheran pastor during WWII. He left the safety of America and returned to Germany, joined the underground, and ultimately was martyred by Hitler with only days left in the war.

His chapter on The Suffering of the Messengers (of the gospel) interestingly enough begins with the same scripture I left you with from Martin Luther King, Jr. a few weeks back; Matthew 10:16,

"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves."

While I love Rev. King's sermon, Bonhoeffer's take on this scripture is just as important for us to hear. As disciples, messengers of God, we will suffer. I thank God he chose me, has chosen me to be the example of the suffering servant. This is one of the most important, advanced lessons, for the disciple to learn. Please read Matthew 10:17-28. I am too tired to type it. Please do read it. It will at first frighten you, but then it will strengthen and embolden you. 

As you read this passage you enter into the Holy of Holies in God's word. This is where the disciple begins to become aware that their suffering mirrors that of Jesus Christ. This endured suffering, in turn brings them closer to Christ, sealing and strengthening the bond between savior and disciple. Then we realize something important, we cannot be closer to Christ then when we are suffering as Christ. 

But there is another important step, some of us take it and some cannot quite make it. It involves the understanding of life verses the soul of a person. Some of us value life more than anything. As I battled for breath in that wrecked car, this was me. But I also realized something else, that my soul is Everything. Eternity is everything. My eternal soul means everything to me.

Let me leave you with some words from Bonhoeffer today.  From The Cost of Discipleship, the chapter The Suffering of the Messengers,

"But Jesus never called his disciples into a state of uncertainty, but to one of supreme certainty. That is why his warning (Matt 10:16) can only summon them to abide by the Word. Where the Word is, there the disciple shall be. Therein lies his true wisdom and his true simplicity. If it is obvious that the Word is being rejected, if it is forced to yield its ground, the disciple must yield with it. But if the Word carries on the battle, the disciple must also stand his ground. In each case the disciple will be combining wisdom with simplicity. But wisdom, however spiritual it may be, must never lead the disciple along a path which cannot stand the test of the Word of Jesus. Only the truth of that Word will enable the disciple to discern what is wise. But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect or hope of our own can never be wise, however slight the deviation may be. It is not our judgment of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God. Here alone lies the promise of God's faithfulness and help. It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity."

We make all of this too complicated. Sometimes, to further our own false idols, some of us complicate this understanding of the Word, to conform to our own desires. Bonhoeffer is teaching us that it is unwise for us to do this. Eternity of the soul has primacy over the importance of things in this life. Stand for the Word. Stand in the Word. Stand for the eternal things of God, not the temporal things of this world.

We are not alone. Bonhoeffer again,

"...suffering will help forward their testimony. It is all a part of God's plan and the will of Jesus, and that is why they (the disciples) will be given power to make a good confession and deliver a fearless testimony even in the hour when they make answer before thrones and judgment seats. The Holy Ghost himself will stand by their side and make them invincible."

Not invincible in the life of this world, but invincible in our soul, for eternal life.

As I look back on the accident, as I was struggling to breathe, looking at the blood dripping off my hand, I had always, in my mind envisioned the Holy Spirit sitting with me in the front passenger seat. I now realize that he was laying up in front of me just inside the windshield.

Do no harm, do good and stay in love in with God.


Thad Brown

Opportunity House

and Harmony UMC

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