“Take a sacred offering for the Lord. Let those with generous hearts present the following gifts to the Lord: blue, purple, and scarlet thread; Exodus 35:5-6
The color purple, woven into the curtains of the Temple, reminds us of the perfect kingdom that is promised for us in God’s Heavenly Kingdom. But what if we could see the gift of this royalty that our Jesus won for us, here and now, as we heed His call to join Him in His suffering – in His royal compassion for His beloved children .
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. I Peter 2:9 ESV
When we find ourselves walking a path that breaks our hearts, we can be sure God is weaving His thread of royal compassion right there. But oh how we need Jesus to open our eyes to see His weaving and to join Him in His suffering that His Kingdom may come on earth, as it is in heaven. For, we can only see by faith, as Christ persuades our hearts to trust Him and seek Him in the pain.
We all face wounding from those in the world, and even from those within the church. Maybe your loved ones have also faced the effects of those woundings?
When Bettie’s family walked through painful hurts at the hands of those who were in church leadership, her sons later suffered a deep brokenness as the pain increased their wanderings. It felt like there was an attack being directed by those very ones who were supposed to be family within Christ’s church.
Similar wounding also formed a part of Anna’s and her loved ones’ prodigal wanderings and also met her upon her return to Jesus. God walked her through pain that brought back memories from her childhood. The trauma triggered led to a diagnosis of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and more recently, a chronic heart condition.
Oh how this world can hurt and break our hearts and bodies, but praise God, we have a Savior who understands! A Savior who bore our sin and afflictions, so that now, He can tend to our hearts in compassion – joining us through His Holy Spirit – to comfort us and to restore our vision and hope in Him.
By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:20 NLT
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16 ESV
He does not withhold His mercy from us, as our own hearts harden in the wounding and as our own eyes become blinded by sin. Rather, He continually beckons us into His arms that He might open the eyes of our hearts to see what He does.
Just as Jesus did, our Heavenly Father wants us to despise the shame of the enemy’s mocking taunts, as our accuser places that robe of wounding upon us. As our enemy accuses us and mocks our royal heritage, as our weakness is exposed through trauma and other (chronic) illnesses, God wants us to rejoice. He wants us to see how we are walking in His footsteps toward the joy set before us: a fully healed and whole Body of Christ.
They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. And they began to call out to him, “Hail, King of the Jews. Mark 15:17-18 ESV
Just like Paul before us, the thorns in our flesh give us reason to rejoice for the sake of our brothers and sisters in Christ. For, we are in fact filling up in our flesh – through that very suffering – what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church.
As Anna reflects on this Promise, she can’t help but think of the example God opened her eyes to recently. Anna’s Mum spent a large part of her life longing to understand Anna’s little adopted brother. In her final months, God allowed the enemy to attack Anna’s Mum with a vicious terminal brain cancer: glioblastoma multiforme. But in the midst of horrific suffering God was in fact weaving His royal thread of compassion.
He was filling Anna’s Mum up in her flesh, what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body. For, through the cancer that ravaged her brain, He gave Anna’s Mum the gift of a malfunctioning prefrontal cortex. The cancer stripped her of the very abilities trauma had stripped her adopted son of, as a baby.
During those final months of Anna’s mother’s life, Anna watched God make her mother and her little brother One in Him. Her mother wept in repentance, as she saw how she had responded to her adopted son’s sinful behavior without understanding or compassion. And Anna’s little brother embraced the compassion and grace extended to him that his heart had so longed for. God answered the desires of both their hearts in and through His suffering on the Cross, as He invited Anna’s mother to take up her Cross and follow Him.
In that place of divine understanding and vision, forgiveness flowed like oil upon Anna’s little brother’s head, as her mother recognized her own need for her son’s forgiveness also. Not only did Anna’s mother taste God’s mercy and compassion for herself, in her own weakness and pain, like never before, but God also beautifully positioned her to become His instrument of peace, to bring healing and wholeness to her heart, her son’s heart and through her living testimony- to His Body.
Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. 1 John 1:4-5 ESV
Do you see how as Christ reveals His compassion to us – His decision to join us in our suffering – that we too cannot help but cry: “I Join You in Your suffering.”?
Is there a wound, inflicted by someone within the church or by someone in the world, which has been festering in your soul? Perhaps the wound has even been carried over into the lives of your loved ones who are running from the LORD or (unknowingly) carried over into your own health and well-being now, years later. Will you then join us in prayer, as we too bring our own wounds, pain and chronic illness to the feet of Jesus?
Father, only You know the depth of the woundings we have walked through in our lives and the suffering we are now bearing in our bodies as we carry the impact of sin’s wounding through chronic mental and/or physical illness or even terminal illness, like Anna’s Mum did. Thank You that You carried not just our sin, but also every wounding and every affliction now present in our bodies to the Cross.
Thank You that You chose to suffer with us and still do today, through Your Holy Spirit who resides in us. We too, now long to join You in Your suffering, to willingly yield our diseased and broken bodies and hearts to You that You might make us Your instruments of peace.
Open the eyes of our hearts to see the miracle wonders hidden in Your Word today – Your Word that lives and breathes within us. Strengthen, fill and nourish us with Your living Word that we might arise with fresh faith, as we begin to see what You see. Shine Your Word as a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
Show us how You are using what the enemy meant for evil for good, that we might join You in Your labor of love and Your weaving of royal compassion. Cleanse us of all unrighteousness, let Your forgiveness flow as oil in and through us, oh LORD.
Break up the untilled soil of our own hearts and pull out any weeds that are choking the beauty of Your life and heartbeat in us. Thank you that even as You continue to cleanse us, You already declare us clean by the Word You have spoken to us.
Thank You for inviting us into Your royal family. We recognize that this honor comes with the great privilege of joining You in Your suffering and filling up in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for His Body, that is the church. We stand in awe of Your great gift to us, and worship You, our true King.
Oh how we long to become Your vessels of royal compassion, calling others into Your royal family, through the power of Your Holy Spirit. Empower us to join You in Your suffering, to pick up our Cross and follow You.
Empower us to boast in our weakness and to confess our sins freely before others that Your glory might rest upon us and so draw those around us to Yourself. May others palpably feel the peace and nearness of Your Holy Spirit upon us and know that You are a God who is so very present to each and every one of us in our suffering. Make us Your vessels of Your royal compassion and peace.
In Jesus’ precious Name, Amen.
God bless you today: may grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2, ESV). For we are His fellow workers, God’s field, God’s building (1 Corinthians 3:9) and the very Temple of His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).