Everyone loves parades! My daughter was in the Fur Rondy parade here in Anchorage last weekend. She marched for American Heritage Girls. My boys had a blast cheering their sister on and then getting candy and goodies from everyone else that passed by.
If I’m honest, I’d say that lately it feels more like I’m walking the Green Mile. Sometimes we’re in icky situations, surrounded by an icky crowd…
… Sometimes we’re sure that they are not cheering for us, they’re laughing at us as we walk by. They are rejoicing in our misery. We’re out to be spectacles, put on display for all our failures and short comings.
It’s times like this we just want to retreat. Let’s just go home… we shouldn’t have left our beds.
The Apostle Paul can relate, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:9: “For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.”
Oh I can relate to that. We have been technically homeless since last July; having moved in to our friend’s spare bedroom until the doors we are praying for get opened. Every time someone asks, “Have you guys bought a house yet?” “How long can you stand to live with your friends?” it stings like an insult.
I’m pretty sure there are wives who wince the same way when they get asked, “When are you guys finally going to have a baby?” without knowing that they have tried… oh how hard they’ve tried! Or the husband who hears the wife’s friend say, “How long has he been working for that company? And no promotion yet?”
First, you and me have to realize that these are innocent, well-intended questions. Our friends aren’t trying to embarrass us, they’re concerned about us. Even though their questions don’t seem very graceful, we can extend grace to them and forgive how they’ve stepped on our toes.
But more importantly…
We can turn the corner that Paul turned, when he realized that he wasn’t just placed at the end of a victory parade, as the prisoner of war to be laughed at.
Could it be that you and I are being paraded in our weakness, and in our frailty, because God wants to show us off to the world? That maybe it’s right here, in this suffering, God is showing us to the world to say, “See my servant? See her struggle? Just you wait! I’m going to do something in her life that you wouldn’t believe unless you’d seen it with your own eyes! The victory that’s coming for her is so great, you’ll want to see this now so you can see the revelation of what’s to come – and rejoice with her!”
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 New International Version (NIV)
14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” – Paul the Apostle
My friends, I can truly see that the suffering of this present time cannot be compared to the glory that is coming.
Joel 2:24-26 New International Version (NIV)
24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
the great locust and the young locust,
the other locusts and the locust swarm[a]—
my great army that I sent among you.
26 You will have plenty to eat, until you are full,
and you will praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has worked wonders for you;
never again will my people be shamed.
These are promises we can hold on to as we walk through what feels like parades of shame. We don’t have to walk in defeat, we can walk with joy and with our faces held high regardless of our circumstances! It’s God’s heart to lead us in triumphal procession, to spread the aroma of His salvation everywhere, so that the world knows it was God who has worked wonders for us.
Do you have an encouraging promise to hold on to? Or a prayer request to share? List them below!