“All this I will give you,” Satan swept his arm to indicate the kingdoms stretching to the horizon, “if you will bow down and worship me.” But Jesus turned His back on all that and issued His command: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’” Later, bowed before God, He would cry out, “Father, if you are willing, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”
What was it that Jesus knew? Suffering comes before glory. Jesus “made himself nothing…becoming obedient to the point of death…Therefore, God has highly exalted him…” His exaltation, his glory, came only after – and as a result of – His obedience and suffering. That’s how it works.
A seed drops, dies in a sense and is buried before it rises again in the glory of a spring tulip or the life-giving sustenance of an apple tree. Mothers go through the travail of childbirth before the glory of a sweet baby’s embrace. Even new businesses go through the turmoil of start-up before the glory of success. Suffering is a necessary element of the path to glory and glory only comes after the suffering (though of course glory is never guaranteed).
Elsewhere, we glorify grace and peace. But have we examined the map to those destinations?
On the journey to Grace, we suddenly notice Repentance and Humility. And on the path to Peace we might find that someone’s tried to erase Confrontation and Reconciliation. But let us consider…
Into the sanctuary swaggers a surly fellow, pint in hand, spilling generously and slurs, “I wanna be baptithed!” Do we graciously dunk him at the next opportunity, letting all our Bible-derived guidelines be bowled over by the desires of an individual? Of course not. That would be the response of a doormat.
But if that same gentleman demonstrates remorse at his struggles, humbly seeking help and forgiveness, then we can be strong in extending Grace.
Or in tromps Athena, paintbrush held high, leading sanders, preppers and painters in her train. “We will make these walls an acceptable color,” she bellows. Are we to bow to her whim in the name of Peace? Again, the doormat applies.
But when she comes alone, perhaps with one other, to a gentle confrontation with a goal of reconciling why that room is such a horrid color, we can discuss openly and come to the place of Peace.
Thus, we know that the journey to Grace travels through Repentance and Humility and that the path to Peace passes through Confrontation and Reconciliation. Looking closer, we recognize that progress to Peace moves through Confrontation of Issue and stays far, far away from Condemnation of Person. We do know these things when we see them in clear light.
Why, then, do we expect to arrive at Glory, Grace and Peace without traveling the rough roads that lead to them? There are no helicopters nor tesseracts* in the spiritual world, nor that of relationships.
*A wrinkle in time and space that enables instant transfer from one place and situation to another without having to pass through distance and time to arrive there. From A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engel).