This past Sunday, an American was released from his North Korean prison sentence after being held for the past two years. The news reported speculations that Mr. Kenneth Bae was in North Korea as a missionary when he was caught and arrested for “hostile acts against the North Korean government”.
During speeches to the press by both Mr. Bae and his sister, they reiterated that he has no ill will regarding the people of North Korea. In fact, his sister told CNN that his heart aches for them.
Reading through Colossians, we can see a similar sentiment from Paul. At the time that he wrote this letter to the church in Colossae, Paul, like Mr. Bae, was in prison (Colossians 4:18).
Through the whole book of Colossians, we see that, while Paul was in chains, his mind was not set on his circumstances. He wasn’t in a spiritual drought trying to understand why, if God is good, did He let Paul end up in that cell. He didn’t call out to God, telling Him that, after all his hard work, Paul didn’t deserve to be in jail.
What did his conversations with God look like? He spent his time praying to God, THANKING HIM for what He was doing in the lives of others, and ASKING for God to continue working in them (Colossians 1:3-14, 2:1-2). His heart was heavy for the people of Colossae.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you....
- Colossians 1 : 9
Alright. Let’s pause right there for a minute and be real. So, if someone I knew was going through a really difficult season, and instead of turning inward, they told me that they spent their time thanking God for what He is doing in MY life, I would feel so confused. And amazed. And loved. It would make me want to imitate their unwavering faith.
I heard once of a couple who could truly be the modern day versions of Job. He fell sick and could no longer support them. She became caregiver and sole breadwinner - until she also became ill. Her sickness took her vision and left her wheelchair-bound. Yet, when she talks with family, she never complains about their life. Instead, she asks how they can pray for others.
You can’t fake that kind of faith.
Putting ourselves in the shoes of the Colossians, and picturing what it’d be like to hear from Paul who is suffering, allows us to be encouraged and heed his commands.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
- Colossians 2 : 6-8
Take some time to read Colossians today. I love that God inspired Paul to write these words to the first century Colossian church, and yet it is still relevant for today. As you read, notice Paul’s attitude in his writing, in the midst of suffering..
Regardless of the season that you are in, look at Paul as he points you to Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:1). Pray for others. Thank God for working even in the midst of pain.
See You In The Round!
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved."