“And because we are His children, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Galatians 4:6
Recently, Singaporeans were shocked by the tragic and senseless murder of a teenager by another teenager in a school. This came at the heel of a worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in the nation with clusters in the KTV lounges started by men seeking pleasure from Vietnamese hostesses. It was a grim reminder of the fragility and unpredictability of life as well as the reality of our sinful nature and need for God’s healing grace.
My initial reactions and responses to these events revealed the spiritual condition of my heart – the presence of the weeds of lust, pride and anger and the absence of the wheat of the love, joy and peace. As a worldly citizen, I was tempted to complain, to criticize, and to blame the authorities in the futile attempts to find answers that cannot be found. As a worldly Christian, I prayed for comfort, healing and recovery but with a faith that was rooted in human wisdom than in the power of God.
I was convicted by the hard truth that when my heart is a thorny soil, the seed of God’s grace cannot bear the fruit of love, joy and peace:
“The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.” Matthew 13:22 NLT
Without the presence of God, our souls are dead. Sin is our “spiritual genetic dysfunction” that leads to our failure to experience God’s presence in our daily lives. Furthermore, there are spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual dimension that governs this world of darkness. The evil we see in the world is also very much present deep within our hearts.
My heart needs to be broken by what breaks God’s heart. God suffers with us in our pain with “all creation groaning as in the pains of childbirth” and the “longing to be released from sin and suffering” (Romans 8:23, NLT). A world darkened by the absence of God’s presence is not God’s will but the consequence of God’s judgment:
“Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.” Romans 1:28-29 NLT
But God sent Jesus to show us how great His Love is and to open the way for us to become the children of God. Only the Love of God can turn misery into ministries. Jesus died and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will have servant hearts and servant hands to serve others. It is only by the grace of God that we can offer our suffering as our sacrifice of praise trusting that God will take our pain and fill us with His love so that we can comfort others. Every suffering we go through is not pointless but has a divine purpose when our misery is turned into a ministry.
Henri Nouwen found that the closer he came to the poor and broken people of the world, he had a greater desire to speak directly about God and less impelled to deal with the burning issues of the day. The poor and the broken were calling him to be more and more God-centered and to reveal to others God’s immense and intimate love for them rather than to help them solve their problems. He felt led to address suffering and sorrow in a different way:
“Through prayer we can carry in our heart all human pain and sorrow, all conflicts and agonies, all torture and war, all hunger, loneliness, and misery, not because of some great psychological or emotional capacity, but because God’s heart has become one with ours.”
Our calling is to be faithful disciples living as the children of God so that the Light of Christ may be seen in our acts of love and deeds of faith. As a faithful disciple we will pray, not to possess more of the Holy Spirit, but for the Holy Spirit to possess more and more of us and to fill our hearts with the Love of God. We will pray for the Holy Spirit to bind us together for a single grain of salt cannot do very much but when we are living together as the family of our Heavenly Father we can “add to and transform the flavor of life all around the world.”
The good news is that Christ has won the victory over sin and evil through the power of His Resurrection. Let us praise God for giving us the Holy Spirit to empower us with inner strength and to experience and share the love of God:
“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Ephesians 3:17-18 NLT