“I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I don’t know how else to explain it but this verse keeps coming back into my life. I have stated it before but I believe everything happens for a reason and that there are no coincidences with God. Yesterday, day eight, I was thinking about how God has blessed me and this verse came to mind. I’ve written about Matthew 28:18-20 before, the great commission. This is by far one of the most important verses in my life. It is so simple yet so complex. There is so much more to it than just a calling. It is an explanation, a demand, and a promise.
In verse 19, Jesus tells the disciples that no one else has authority over heaven and earth. Jesus tells the disciples that only he has authority over heaven and earth. Not only does he have the authority but he was given the authority, it has been placed into his hands. Jesus continues and gives a demand, an action, and a follow up to him having the authority. He tells the disciples of their mission, “therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” This is our work as followers of Christ and this is our purpose. We so often forget this message or we often get swept up in ourselves and our own problems. I know I have tendencies to forget others and only remember my own issues. We are called to share the gospel and make disciples of everyone regardless of race, gender, age. To live a life of discipleship and obey the commands of Jesus Christ. No matter what Christ has called you to, whether it’s missions, youth ministry, media work, teaching, our main work in life is to make disciples. And we are simply called to share the Gospel. It sounds so simple but putting it into action can be much more difficult. That is where we need to trust Christ. Trust that God will speak through us when we evangelize, be with us in times of heart ache and turmoil. In verse 20 Jesus says, “and lo, I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” We take comfort in this verse by trusting that God will be with us always. But this verse is so much more than that. If you go out and make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey what Jesus has commanded, then he will be with you always. If we do as we are told, if we simply do the work we are given, share the gospel and do as we are commanded, then Jesus will be with us. If we ourselves are disciples and continue to make disciples, Christ will be there. If we are with Him, He is with us. We must take this to heart. This simple verse is there to protect us and help us place our faith in Christ. It is to help us put our trust in him and him alone.
The challenge of the day was suffering and understanding it as a part of following Christ. The narrator of the chapter spoke of the sufferings that many Christians have gone through simply because they were followers of Christ. Many Christians are killed and tortured for their faith. They are tortured until they renounce their God, those who don’t are often killed. The chapter focused on one man in particular who was captured and tortured because of his belief in Christ. Something that I loved hearing was, he said in those moments of pain and torture and utter horror, he never felt closer to Christ. He was willing to die for Christ as Christ had died for him. He stayed committed to Christ, that is so beautiful. The idea of torturing and even killing someone for what they believe is sick and breaks my heart. But the fact that this man and so many others can rely on Jesus even in moments such as that, makes me think about the little insignificant things that have made me turn from God.
I feel so much shame for ever turning from God. I think about times when I have let my emotions determine my relationship with God. There have been moments when I’ve turned from God in heart break, loss, sorrow and instead I should have been praising Him! Reading of the incredible faith of others strengthens my own faith. It reminds me that even when I’m in what seems like the worst situation I’ve ever been in, Christ is still faithful and will always be faithful. The real question is, will I be faithful in my sufferings? Will I continue to praise God even when things don’t go as expected? Will I continue to live out the great commission even when I’m doubting myself? These are the things that cross my mind when I think of this challenge. I pray that God give me a strong yet gentle heart, that I am able to praise Him even when it hurts.
I pray for those who are suffering and persecuted for their belief in christ. I find comfort knowing that God is with them, that He feels and understands their pain. I pray that Christ allow me to defend my faith and open the eyes of others to help them see Christ.
God bless you and remember, you are beautifully made in the image of God.
Side Note: I am planning on running the Chicago marathon with Team World Vision, an organization that runs to raise money for clean water for kids in Africa. If you’d like to donate you can go to this link Donate Here. Besides that, prayer is always appreciated if you feel so inclined.