Not an Easy Road: I understand, in theory, that God does not promise that my life will be easy. There is no guarantee that ministry will be without its problems. But I was convinced for many years that because I surrendered to full-time ministry that God somehow should guarantee effectiveness in my ministry. I believed that He should give visible, tangible results. This is just another way to spin that life should not be complicated if I am following Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. If Christ, who lived perfectly in the will of the Father suffered and found ministry difficult and full of challenges, then I, who am not greater than my master (v. 24), should not expect ministry to be problem-free.
In Matthew 10, Jesus commissions His disciples to go preaching the gospel. They were given power to raise the dead, heal the sick, cast out demons, and heal leprosy (v. 8). Yet, even with this power, Jesus warns they are being sent out as sheep among wolves (v. 16). There is great risk of great problems. They will be betrayed by family and friends (v. 21), they will be hated (v. 22), they will be persecuted (v. 23), they will stand before courts (v. 17), they will be flogged (v. 17), they will be put before kings and governors (v. 18), they will be on the run (v. 23), and they will be killed (v. 28). Jesus did not have an easy road. The disciples did not have an easy road. I should not expect that I will have an easy road as I take up my cross and follow Jesus (v. 38). Speaking the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ will lead to hardships and difficulties in life.
Jesus does not just leave the disciples with the word that the road will be tough. In Matthew 10:26-31 Jesus comforts by saying, “Do not be afraid.” He encourages us not to fear those who kill the body, but to fear (be in awe and wonder) of the one who kills body and soul. Jesus expands the picture of life beyond the moment of suffering to all eternity (v. 28). There is something bigger going on here. Yet, Jesus then narrows it back down to the moment of suffering again by reminding the disciples and us that a sparrow, which is basically worthless financially, is known by the Father and their tiny lives are under the sovereign care of the Father (v. 29). Jesus then points out the Father is aware the minute detail regarding the number of hairs on our head. He knows the number of hairs on our head (v. 30). This is interesting because of two things: one, counting the hairs on our head is difficult and two, the Father knows this detail that has limited value, if any value, in the scope of eternity. So, if He knows about this small and inconsequential detail then we can be confident that He knows about our suffering. Jesus adds, just in case we did not know, “Don’t be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows.” We do not need to fear our suffering because the Father is sovereign and watching over us.
Jesus adds two additional thoughts. First, He will acknowledge us before the Father as we acknowledge Him before others. The road will not be easy, but faithful testifying of Jesus reminds us that He will testify of us to the Father. Second, Jesus affirms that in losing our life for His sake, we will discover true life. True living is not a guarantee of life without problems. True life is found in Christ. Paul reminds us that our suffering (2 Corinthians 4:17-18) is light and temporary and producing in us an eternal glory that is greater than what we can imagine (God’s Word). He encourages us not to look for life in the temporary things or the suffering but look for life in eternal things. This temporary journey will not be easy, but it leads to our eternal joy with the Father.