Looking unto Jesus eases sorrow and suffering

Lunminthang Haokip *

WHAT DO WE LOOK FOR ? : Different people look for different things. World class actors and actresses hone their talents, make faces before the camera to the best of their grimaces, put their emotions on switch-on/switch off mode in turns, and look for the Oscar. Football fans anxiously wait for over-the-top soccer tourneys and Championship Cups where they can watch their fave stars like CR7 or Messi hit the back of the net in style as they ideally imagine.

The fancied players, in turn, look for a FIFA Ballon'dOr (Golden Ball) to feather their caps further. The politico is on the look-out for vexed societal issues where he can 'fish in troubled waters' and increase the percentage of his vote-worthiness. The unemployed youth keep an eye on ads and opportunities to get a job that can lift up his stocks and place him on equal footing with his betters.

The Bible grad, fresh from the Seminary, hunts for a salaried life-partner who can come to his rescue when his chips are down. In the early 1970s, we Intermediate students in Shillong, yearned for Fetes where we could give vent to our vile youthful cravings. A bum-chum of mine, in the hope of winning a bottle of booze in the next Fete, practiced 'Bottle Fishing' the whole day !

We bunked classes but attended College in full strength in the day Post-Matric Scho was disbursed. In short, we were good from far but far from good. Thinking back, I was not even a 'wolf in sheep's clothing: I was a wolf which was not bothered to put on a sheep's clothing.

GOD IS OUR EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD : Hebrews 12:2, "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." In the preceding chapter, the great deeds of the Heroes of faith were listed down and showcased. Abraham looked unto God and ignored the gifts of the king of Sodom (Genesis Ch. 14).

Jehovah rewarded him with a rare unique promise, "Fear not Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward (Genesis 15:1)." Throughout the Old Testament history, we read that the LORD kept his promise and shielded the descendants of Abraham. They were blessed differently. Did the father of faith lack anything because he rejected the spoils of Sodom ? Not at all. God was his 'exceeding great reward.'

Faithful servants of God shouldn't crib over the worldly privileges they miss. They should never crave for praise and reward from the faithless folks of this perverse world. A worker who serves God withou salary will be richly blessed. God is his reward.

The Almighty God saw to it that Abraham's descendants lacked nothing, Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith is like a blank cheque. You can stretch it and encash. Having faith is like possessing an inexhaustible treasure.

WE ARE LOOKING AT THE RISEN CHRIST: We are no more looking at the infant Jesus. He grew up and conquered the world. John 16:33, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." When Jesus was born, the people of that generation looked for a Saviour, the Messiah.

Now we are looking at Christ who triumphed over sin and death, and 'sits at the right side of the throne of God.' Any sinner who has repented, confessed his or her sins, and received forgiveness of God has proximity to the Son of God by faith. Hebrews 10:12, "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

Even in worldly affairs, a 'right hand man of a Cabinet Minister' or a Legislator has a considerable clout of influence. Just imagine how much more powerful the 'Right Hand Man' of the Creator of heaven and earth would be ? What our Lord says or desires is as good as done. To have our voice heard, all we need to do is to be in the 'right side' of the Son of God. Heb. 10:13 says, "From henceforth till His enemies be made His footstool."

In ancient days, in front of the royal throne, a stool was kept as royal foot-rest on which the images of all the enemies of the king are painted. That's a symbolical practice to drive the message home that the king has triumphed over all his adversaries. In distress and sorrow, we look to Jesus our King and Lord. One day, when our Lord will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem, He will trample over all and reign over them with an iron hand.

THE JOY THAT IS SET BEFORE US : You can't get set to run the spiritual race before your sins are forgiven by God. As for me, my race began as I repented for my sins and made confession accordingly. I was returning from May Retreat at Chennai where I was hammered out to spiritual shape for ten days by the heart-searing sermons of Late Joshua Daniel, the anointed International TV and itinerary preacher.

Stranded at Silchar, in May, 1994, I deeply searched my heart and came out clean in confession. The Lord forgave my sins. I opened my Bible at Romans 8:1 & 2, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Restitution followed.

I was on cloud nine. In my dream I experienced perfect bliss in the company of Angels. Those who helped me in my spiritual growth, and mentored me, like Late Dr. SV Job, Late Prof. Jobdas etc. were the 'cloud of witnesses' for me. I left no stone unturned to sell Biblical form of worship. My detractors left no turn of mine unstoned ! My spiritual 'gurus' taught me how to seek a promise from God.

I was burdened by 'folly marriages,' through 'unholy elopements' in my village vicinity. I prayed for a prayer hall where send-offs and weddings could be performed. I also prayed for a school. Without proper education, the youth could not understand the deeper implications of the Scriptures. The Lord mercifully granted all the basic needs of my backblock settlement.

The race is on. All that we need to do is "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross." we too must endure shame, hardship, tongue-wagging and persecution for the joy of salvation of our own folks that's 'set before us.'

THE PRECIOuS AND THE VILE: Hurdles are aplenty in the life of a believer who's on the fast track of spiritual race. I was like what Civil Servants call KTP - Keen-type Probationer. I was a spiritual KTP. After being saved by grace, I was raw and naive. My posting at Saikul in 1994 as SDO was my first tryst with the 'acid test' of my faith, post-conversion.

There were times when I should have exercised more discretion in speech. I should have zipped my mouth. All weapons like knife or axe become blunt with constant use. The tongue is the only weapon which grows sharper with 'more misuse.' But I couldn't keep mum when the Lord gave me an awesome responsibility to speak out for Him. I was given this promise in Jeremiah 15:19, "And thou shalt stand before Me: if thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth."

The 'precious' in my professional port of call was preaching the Word. The 'vile' I saw with my own eyes was 'ganja plantation.' I raised a hue and cry over the evil practice that made probable labourers in God's vineyard weak, drowsy and anaemic. I met a poor widow. I tutored her on the evil side effects of ganja.

She repented and prayed, "O Lord, I am planting ganja so that I may buy a bicycle for my son's school attendance. SDO says I should stop growing it. If it's really bad, let the ganja plants wither." Three days hence, the window went to her ganja field. The Lord had withered the intoxicating green plants.

The widow was blessed. She lifted up the name of the Lord. Her son could continue his studies without ganja money. God will judge those who defile the precious soil to grow prohibited substances that would destroy the soul.

I HAVE NOT RESISTED SIN TO THE SHEDDING OF BLOOD : In year 2000, I sold away my car in order to clear some spiritual debt. I began to ride a bicycle to Office and to Church. My adversaries thought I was doing so as an act of hypocrisy; which was totally wrong. They even had the brazen audacity to say that 'my crashing fall will be resounding !' One evening, I was cycling my way back from Langol after a Church service.

It was dusk time. My eyes failed to notice the barbed wire laid across the bypass road near 69 Mtn Brig. Camp near Imphal West Treasury. I had a 4 inch cut on top of my head. Had I been 4 inches taller, my eyes could have been irreparably smashed. I thanked God for my 'five feet-nothing' height. Blood oozed out of the cut as it drenched the jacket I was wearing. But I did not fall.

In my wretched state, I kept on riding to District Hospital (BT Road) and got the injury stitched. The next day, I was in self-pity mode. I lamented, "Lord, what is this state of mine ? I humbled myself for your sake. This injury is something I can't bear!" But I looked to Jesus with my spiritual eyes wide open, and prayed. My Lord showed me Hebrews 12:4, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin."

The verse was a wake-up call for me. In 1958, my dad, Late Pastor Ngamjathang Haokip, was beaten to pulp with firewood sticks, as he led a Christian Endeavour preaching team to a neighbouring village. The Spirit reminded me that I have not shed my own blood in my fight against sin, like my old man did.

I said to myself, "Yes Lord, I did so little for Thee. Forgive me." I repented to dust and ashes and praised God for the reminding bloody incident.

* Lunminthang Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an IAS (Retd)
This article was webcasted on February 07 2023 .

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