“Things put into the furnace properly can be shaped, refined, purified, and even beautified. This is a remarkable view of suffering, that if faced and endured with faith, it can in the end only make us better, stronger, and more filled with greatness and joy.” ~Timothy Keller
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Pet. 1:6-7
“The life of giving is not an empty life…it is the first step to encouragement, to clearing your mind, to being fulfilled. Scripture is very clear on this—if you seek to be full, give…When you empty yourself for others, God fills you up. But not so you can suddenly retire with your little packet of joy. God gives to us so that we may give. We give, He gives us more, with which to give more…Christ’s life given up for others is the centerpiece of our faith. Our lives given up for others is the centerpiece of our faithfulness. The glory is that, in both cases, death is not the end. Christ has died for us for all time. But the trail he blazed does not end in the grave. He tells us to follow, to imitate him.” ~Rachel Jankovic, Fit to Burst, pp. 13-18
“You are more wicked than you ever dared believe but you are more loved than you ever dared hope. Don’t be too proud to accept what the gospel says about your unworthiness. Don’t be too despondent to accept what the gospel says about how loved you are.” ~Tim Keller
“Believer, here is encouragement. Are you praying for some beloved one? Oh, do not give up praying, for Christ is ‘mighty to save.’ You are powerless to reclaim the rebel, but your Lord is Almighty….Jesus is ‘mighty to save,’ the best proof of which lies in the fact that He has saved you.”
“Why do you tell your child a thing twenty times?” asked some one of a mother. “Because,” said she, “I find nineteen times is not enough.” Now, when a soul is to be ploughed, it may so happen that hundreds of furrows will not do it. What then? Why, plough all day till the work is done. Whether you are ministers, missionaries, teachers, or private soul-winners, never grow weary, for your work is noble, and the reward of it is infinite. The grace of God is seen in our being permitted to engage in such holy service; it is greatly magnified in sustaining us in it, and it will be pre-eminently conspicuous in enabling us to hold out till we can say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” ~Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Ever feel like you have nothing to show for all your hard work in the home? You make lunch for littles only to sweep more crumbs off the floor. You organize a closet only to have it get cluttered again. You train your children and they throw a fit at the family gathering. You serve your husband but he doesn’t seem to notice.
What’s the point?
Nothing drains our zeal for homemaking like the feeling of futility. As the wise man in Ecclesiastes asks: “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecc. 1:3)
His answer is as (apparently) disheartening as it is realistic:
“Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, andthere was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecc. 2:11, emphasis mine).
This is reality—the reality of your life and mine, your homemaking and mine—without Easter Sunday. Nothing to be gained. Worthless. Pointless. A waste of time.
But the cross of Jesus Christ, and his resurrection from the dead, changes everything. Not only has death been “swallowed up in victory” says Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:55, but also the futility that flows from death. Because of the resurrection, our work is not a waste of time.
“Therefore [in light of the glorious resurrection], my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).
What should we do in light of the resurrection? Here in this verse God tells us: “stick with it” “don’t give up” “keep working.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ not only certifies that “it is finished,” it tells us to “get going.”
The resurrection motivates us to work hard, for all work done “in the Lord”—for his glory and in his strength—is not in vain. It is not pointless. Because of the resurrection all floor-mopping and sippy-cup-filling done “in the Lord” will last forever.
Sure, if we work in our home for human applause our work will be in vain. Our family will never appreciate us enough. The world will never esteem us enough. Even if we seek our own personal satisfaction or fulfillment, we’ll come up empty. Nothing will be gained. We might as well go chase the wind.
But if we abound in the work of the Lord, for the sake of the glory of our Lord, we can be absolutely sure it is not in vain, as surely as we know that our Savior rose from the grave.
“We see here, dear brethren, in being told to remember Jesus [and his resurrection] that there is hope even in our hopelessness.
When are things most hopeless in a man? Why, when he is dead! Do you know what it is to come down to that, so far as your inward weakness is concerned? I do. At times it seems to be that all my joy is buried like a dead thing, and all my present usefulness and all my hope of being useful in the future are coffined and laid underground like a corpse. In the anguish of my spirit, and the desolation of my heart, I could count it better to die than to live.
You say it should not be so. I grant you it should not be so, but so it is. Many things happen within the minds of poor mortals which should not happen; if we had more courage and more faith they would not happen.
Ay, but when we go down, down, down, is it not a blessed thing that Jesus Christ of the seed of David died, and was raised from the dead? If I sink right down among the dead men yet will I hold to this blessed hope, that as Jesus rose again from the dead, so also shall my joy, my usefulness, my hope, my spirit rise.
‘Thou, which hast showed us great and sore troubles, shalt quicken us again, and bring us up from the lowest depths of the earth’ (Ps. 71:20).
If you take a survey among Christians and Non-Christians on what is the most important holiday for the Christian, the majority will affirm that it is Easter. But have you ever had the feeling that you just didn’t properly celebrate Easter because you let it sneak up on you? In more liturgical traditions, this hasn’t always been the case. For the last 1700 years many parts of the church have given attention to what’s called “Holy Week”. This is the week dedicated to remembering the last week of Jesus’ life, from Palm Sunday to Maunday Thursday to Good Friday to Resurrection Sunday.
We want to encourage you to not let Easter sneak up on you this year. To that end, here are some suggestions for Holy Week, along with a few resources to assist you:
Read the events of Holy Week in the gospels.
The most important way to prepare ourselves for Easter is through reading and meditating on Scripture. lists the events of Jesus’ final week along with the gospel texts that record them. This is ideal for helping one read through the relevant gospel passages during Holy Week.
“When we think of Christ dying on the cross we are shown the lengths to which God’s love goes in order to win us back to himself. We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son! We cannot measure such love by any other standard. He is saying to us: I love you this much.
The cross is the heart of the gospel. It makes the gospel good news: Christ died for us. He has stood in our place before God’s judgment seat. He has borne our sins. God has done something on the cross which we could never do for ourselves. But God does something to us as well as for us through the cross. He persuades us that he loves us.”