by James Nilsen
“The last year at Neighborhood Academy has been one of great sorrow and suffering. We have lost several students dear to us due to families moving or conflict with parents. The greatest sadness for my wife, Hannah, and I was a high school student that we loved dearly and who had been a part of Neighborhood since kindergarten. She left us for the life of rejecting Christ, that her family had pressured her to live since birth. She had lived with our family for over a year, and had begun to call our house “home”. When she hugged my wife it was so tight it was as if she was clinging to a life raft to prevent herself from drowning. Then a flip switched and she was gone.
How do you cope with knowing that someone you love as a daughter is doing drugs and living a self destructive life? Then start the process of caring over again with new 5, 6, and 7 year old students?
“Lord this is going to hurt too much.”
During times like these I often reflect and am tempted to give up and move out of the city.
”What am I producing? Mathematically I can be doing more for Christ somewhere else.”
But that is not the language that God uses. Jesus asks “Are you willing to obey me and be faithful? Are you willing to glorify me in whatever situation I put you in? Will you suffer for Me and with Me?”
For “we mourn, but not as those who have no hope.” In 1 Peter 1:6-7, we are told “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
I have never been as sad as I have this year, wept more deeply, been more desperate to escape the reality of the sadness around me, or been more desperate for Jesus to come back NOW. But God in His grace has taught me the depth of the truth of Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
“Wait, Lord, even THIS suffering? The glory to come is going to be too wonderful to be compared to weeping so hard that I can’t hold down food? Or sleep? Or that I’m having anxiety attacks so severe that my whole body is shaking and I can’t bring a glass of water to my lips?”
And the answer is “yes even this suffering.” And this is my suffering. Just think of what people are experiencing around the world. Not even THAT suffering is worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed. Thank you Jesus.”
“But I do not consider my life
of any account as dear to myself,
so that I may finish my course and the ministry
which I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.”
– Acts 20:24