I AM with You
My pastor asked me to create a video (posted below) to go along with his sermon that would be about persecution and suffering. My first thought was that we here in the States don't really know persecution, at least not any great persecution. So I wondered what I would write and what the accompanying video might be. But as I continued to think about it, and prayed and asked God what He might want me to illustrate, I realized that no matter what "level" of persecution we might face, it is persecution nevertheless. It is relevant and it is not overlooked by God. As for suffering, we all suffer to some degree in our lives as well. And we need encouragement in this.
We need encouragement for this especially because when persecution and suffering happen, so often, we question God. How could God allow the suffering that happens "to good people," or worse, to children?! We take great pause in the sight of suffering and doubt the love of God, doubt that he notices us or that he cares. The sight of persecution and suffering and the personal experience of these is truly a challenge to our faith.
I have done my own share of doubting in the sight of suffering. But faith always wins out with me, because I am CONVINCED that he loves us--I have seen too much evidence of that in order NOT to believe it. That evidence comes in the form of victory over persecution and suffering. And when it SEEMS that there is not victory because we don't see it in the moment, in the end there is, because in the end, God always wins, and in the end, his people return home to him, where the persecution and suffering are no more. For,
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4 NIV).
Jesus himself has already endured his full share of persecution and suffering, and so he knows what we are going through. I think it is his personal experience with suffering and persecution that prompts him to provide us with a promise that he will always be there with us. In fact, many verses in the Bible tell us that he is with us, but one of my favorites is when Jesus is about to ascend into Heaven. Before going, he tells his disciples,
Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).
This world is a broken world. It is bound to throw horrors at us. And while it is only human to doubt in those moments, lets not stand in that doubt for too long, and instead remember who is with us in that moment.
On that note, here is the video I promised you; I hope it will encourage you to remember that no matter what you are going through, God is with us.