Updated Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on October 28, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“In This Word You Will Have Trouble”
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
El señor Philip, who always sang passionately, was by far the oldest member of our church’s choir. But I noticed that while he was present at most of the church functions, Philip was always alone even though he had a wife. And on the anniversary Sunday of this church founded in 1972, Philip was one of the original members who came out to the front to be recognized. His wife would have come out as well had she been in the service, but she stopped coming to church a long time ago. Why? A terrible accident occurred while her husband was driving a motorcycle with his young son sitting behind him, instantly killing him. For Philip, an unbearable guilt outweighed the pain while his wife was engulfed with bitterness towards God for allowing this tragedy. In time, Philip found forgiveness and comfort in God’s love whereas his wife fell away.
The Parable of the Sower seems to adequately explain what happened to her faith. In reference to the seed sown on rocky places, Jesus says, “Since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away” (Mk. 4:16). Could it be that because her faith was not founded on a deep understanding of God’s word, she fell away when faced with a difficult circumstance? While that may be true, it also sounds callous. Who can, C.S. Lewis notwithstanding, absolutely resolve the problem of pain?
But an adequate answer comes from Christ who said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). He overcame it by “endur[ing] the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb. 12:2). Consequently, God, at the very least, earned the right to tell us, “Don’t give up; I, too, lost my Son, to redeem you. Meanwhile, ‘fix [y]our eyes on Jesus’; he’ll help you to overcome the pain, guilt, and bitterness.”
Philip, who died in 2010, is finally at peace, having been united with God as well as his son. I pray that his wife will get to experience the same.
Prayer: Father, we exalt You and extend our highest praise unto your merciful and gracious Name. It is utterly frightening to think of a life without Your presence. Thank You for your unbelievable, amazing, stupendous love towards us expressed through the sacrifice of your Son Jesus. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 58
Lunch Break Study
Background: When the only child of the Shunammite woman is dead, she immediately sets out to see Prophet Elisha, who had blessed her to have this child in her late age.
Read 2 Kings 4:27-35: And when [the Shunamite woman] came to the mountain to the man of God, she caught hold of his feet. And Gehazi came to push her away. But the man of God said, “Leave her alone, for she is in bitter distress, and the Lord has hidden it from me and has not told me.” 28 Then she said, “Did I ask my lord for a son? Did I not say, ‘Do not deceive me?’” 29 He said to Gehazi, “Tie up your garment and take my staff in your hand and go. If you meet anyone, do not greet him, and if anyone greets you, do not reply. And lay my staff on the face of the child.” 30 Then the mother of the child said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So he arose and followed her. 31 Gehazi went on ahead and laid the staff on the face of the child, but there was no sound or sign of life. Therefore he returned to meet him and told him, “The child has not awakened.” 32 When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. 33 So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. 34 Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. 35 Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.
Questions to Consider
1. How would you describe the Shunamite woman’s feelings toward Prophet Elisha? Is it somewhat similar to what Philip’s wife might have felt?
2. How would you describe the action of Gehazi upon seeing the Shunamite woman reaching out to Elisha? Relate that to what people might have done to Philip’s wife (a pure conjecture).
3. Ultimately, what does this narrative teach us? How does this personally minister to you?
1. The prophet said that she was in “bitter distress.” Who wouldn’t be after losing a child, just like Philip’s wife? And her words to the prophet surely reflected that: “Did I ask for a son?”
2. Both Elisha and Gehazi didn’t know the exact nature of her coming, but it wasn’t too difficult to sense that something had happened to her. But that didn’t stop Gehazi from being insensitive by pushing the woman away from his boss. When people are hurt, like Philip and his wife were, we must be sensitive, for Paul taught us to mourn with those who mourn (Rom. 12:15).
3. Of course, the death of our loves ones does not have this kind of happy ending. Once they die, they are gone from us. But through the narrative in which God expresses Himself through the concern Elisha had for the Shunamite woman, God shows that He really cares. After instructing Gehazi to bring the boy back to life, the prophet goes there himself in case that didn’t work. God cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).
As you look back today, did anything remind you of God’s immense love for you? Did anything happen
today that made you feel guilt and shame? Go to the Lord and receive his cleansing and forgiveness.