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A THEOLOGY OF SUFFERING

 

             Alas I’ve found some room to breath, and write. It’s been about six months since I moved out west, and just this past weekend I moved for the 6th time. Floating around Los Angeles and the OC has been very draining while working for dco.  Needless to say,  moving to California has been a whirlwind and probably one of the most volatile journeys I’ve gone on in awhile.  Yet, it’s also been one of the most stretching learning experiences I’ve ever had; lessons I know that no school or ministry could ever teach me.
             When preparing to leave, I could remember the cloud of excitement that accumulated from myself and everyone around me. “HOPE”, “BREAKTHROUGH” and “FINALLY!!!”  would be the commentary over my preparation. Prophetic words spoken over me that never made sense all these years, became frighteningly lucid. More importantly, a growing void in my heart was once again filled with a familiar faith I knew all too well; the same faith that convinced me to quit my job on the trading floor; the same faith that gave me strength to endure in the many hard battles we fought for the Kingdom.       
             With these elements, it’s a no-brainer to expect nothing less than peace and glory in the follow through. Knowing it’s God, provides this nebulous comfort, an ethereal phenomenon that your life has divine purpose. It lays out a trajectory that will end beyond a joy you could ever fathom. In essence, it was a concoction of unbridled hope, waiting to be tamed with every step of faith I took.  I’ve arrived, and the days of uncertainty in the desert were bound to be over; or so I thought.      
             Unfortunately these aren’t the ways of God; never has been. But thankfully, it’s because He’s committed to us more than we can fathom.       
             At face value, I can gather from my friends and colleagues that my evolving journey is exciting (and by that I am very humbled). But the reality I am living is quite the opposite, and is revealing a more sobering truth about myself and my God. These open doors to LA made me feel special, chosen and heard by God, but for all the wrong reasons. This wasn’t a door of opportunity for me, but rather it was a door of opportunity for Him - a chance for God to freely mold me and school me in a way He’s never done before.       
             I am quickly learning first hand, that He is more committed to forging overcomers than just getting me to a destination in life. To cut to the chase, with a coke and a smile at hand,  I can say my time in Los Angeles has been hard as hell. But in His grace, God has constantly reminded me that He has never done it any other way to produce servants in His Kingdom.
            Noah had his 100 years of ridicule, building a boat for a natural phenomenon that had never existed. Joseph, was prophesied his leadership in dreams,  only to be sold into slavery with added years of betrayal and imprisonment. David, was anointed by the nations Prophet as King at 15, but endured 23 years of hardship and a life as a fugitive before becoming the King of a United Israel. Daniel, faced the loss of his family and country from Babylon, a pre-modern ISIS, and forcefully endured the pagan culture while becoming one of the greatest culture catalysts of our faith. And more importantly Jesus, our suffering servant endured the greatest pain, for the greatest gift of mankind.
            Every servant used and entrusted by God went through a journey of fire. And in these very fires, is where their callings and the chracter to carry them out, were truly born and crystallized. All of them had an opportunity to quit, to curse God and run away, but they continued to worship, behold, and trust His faithfulness till the end. And without fail, God has always proven to be greater than any suffering they endured.       
             They say one of the greatest mysteries in God’s natural order is the metamorphosis of a butterfly. They’ve discovered within the chrysalis of it’s metamorphic state, the DNA of the caterpillar completely changes to become a butterfly. If you open it too early, scientists have been disappointed to see nothing but a soupy and confusing mess. But with patience, you will witness one of the most unassuming creatures evolve into a beautiful creation. In the Kingdom, I’ve found peace to know that at every crossroad I continue to trust Him, God is embracing me in my own spiritual Chrysalis. And in due time I’ll be released into a new creation, tested, tried, and true. 
             So this is for all those who have faced hardships I could never imagine nor understand. Whether it’s loss, hopeless family situations, or rejection - hold on. Hold on to His faithfulness. Hold on to the truth that He is more committed to us, than we are to ourselves. Every obstacle, is an opportunity to be layered in God’s Chrysalis; an opportunity to say Yes to God’s dream for us, to take heart, and suffer well. No pain has ever gone unnoticed and He will make all things work together for your Good. He is making all things new in you. I promise. 

Love you all more than you know, 

Jasen 

 

WHISPERS

Seeking A King

Part 1: Whispers

            If my past 9 months were a book, it would be plainly titled: Silence from God. Penned by God Himself, the story of my life seemed linear and predictable with the undertones of a sinking plot. I had come to a crossroads on this missionary journey, longing for direction & clarity, only to be met with an uncomfortable stillness to no avail. Seasons began to fade in and out, right along with the hope I had for an answer. But unbeknownst to me behind this quiet facade, the story arc of my life was taking root, as His haunting silence was a beckoning for the full attention of my soul.
             In this wilderness, I met noble nomads along the way who’ve said I was being too hard on myself. Such easy words to swallow when it’s a battle I face so naturally - setting expectations too high for my own good. So with well meaning hearts, companions blanketed me with godly affirmation to keep me warm through those cold and quiet nights; and tightly, so tightly, I held on.  
             “….God is not silent …I’m overreacting …”  I would whisper, and lay my mind to rest for another day. 
             I had once heard that Time, is the supreme judge of all things truly Eternal. And soon, the ephemeral nature of those friendly voices of human affirmation were revealed as they began losing their warmth. Like a fading candle, the wick of encouragement sank beneath the wax that held it altogether. So I was left with exactly that; nothing but a shell of wax and the silky smoke of temporary relief, rising like a spirit leaving it’s body. I had no regrets though. I gladly and faithfully received the words of biblical encouragement. Yet it’s powers could not silence, the ringing Silence of God in my life….
 
             In 1 Kings 22, we are presented with an account of King Ahab seeking the word of the Lord. He calls upon 400 prophets of Israel for wise counsel to determine if he should declare war to reclaim the land of Rimoth Gilead:
  
             “So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”
            “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

But in the midst of 400 prophets raving on about God’s favor & approval, there still remained one prophet named Micaiah who was hated by the king. “He never prophesies anything good concerning me, but always evil” he said. But begrudgingly, King Ahab summoned him to inquire the Lord. At first, Micaiah falls into peer pressure, singing the same old tune of the 400 prophets who went before him (Who wouldn’t?!). But then an interesting turn of events occurrs:
   
            16 But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the Lord?”
             17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”
             18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”
             19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left.
            20 And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’
“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’
             22 “‘By what means?’ the Lord asked. “‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said. “‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the Lord. ‘Go and do it.’
             23 “So now the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The Lord has decreed disaster for you.”
   
             A.W. Tozer once said “God never uses anyone greatly, until he tests them deeply” -  and I believe those 400 prophets were used to test two different men that day. The first, was King Ahab: a man with a reckless ambition who was so willing to destroy years of peace to take over a piece of land. So God threw the voices of 400 deceptive prophets to fan the fuel to his pride, testing his heart. Micaiah, surprisingly was the other. Entering into a prophetic moment, he was greeted with the pressures of his prophetic universe of 400 peers. Micaiah at first caved, but eventually overcame his fears, and boldly spoke the word of the Lord to a King who despised him. Micaiah, by god’s grace, made mistakes but overcame. King Ahab, was was shown that very same grace through Micaiah’s prophetic word. Unfortunately, he took no heed to it’s weight, only later be found slain in battle exactly as it was foretold. 
             In life, we will all inevitably face crossroads that pull the blinders of our faith - challenges, life decisions, and walls of opposition that expose the raw ground we find our firm security in. Some will find themselves standing on the thorny mountains of selfish-ambition; others may tread in the heavy waters of Man’s Approval. But then there are those who will deny themselves, and the world, to seek day and night for the faint whispers of a Holy God, rather than succumb to the screams of 400  “godly” prophets.
            The voices of encouragement in my life, were my 400 prophets. The silence of God, was my Micaiah. And what at first seemed like rejection into the outer courts, was rather an overwhelming invitation into the deep; a divine honor that required me to deny myself, and the world even more, so that I might have the strength to dive into the waterfall of God’s heart. I’ve come to learn, that God’s silence is a gift; merely another language of God’s always loving and always pursuing heart. And those that are willing to give ear and not ignore His silence in this world of screaming prophets, will soon discover God is hiding Himself only so that He may be continually found. This reflects His clear nature, that God cares about us, more than we could ever care about ourselves. So much so, that He’ll hide himself to never let us thirst in the stagnant waters of this faith; but rather drinking from the fresh rivers that flow from heaven. Deep & intimate friendship is God’s desire, not shallow acquaintances. 
            The truth of the matter is that God is always speaking. And when we find our faith and security tested, the earthquakes, fires, and violent winds will try to capture our gaze. But like Elijah, may we fervently seek His voice above all else, waiting for that soft breeze of God - even if all we may hear is our own breathing while on bended knee. Wise counsel, and godly encouragement will always have a rightful place on this journey to know Christ. But nothing, absolutely nothing, will replace the power of God’s voice, to us and for us, even if it is His silence; for “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” (Proverbs 25:2) Because in the end, like the quiet before the storm, His divine silence leads to only more of Him. I know this much is true. 
           
            And so from this place, a personal journey to seek the Lord began. To seek God where I would no longer hear the echoes of 400 prophets, nor know the comforts of the familiar. Deny the world and the flesh they say; and so I did. And what at first seemed like a desperate urgency to break the silence of God in my life, turned into a timely invitation to let God take my hand and lead me. 
            In a matter of days, I found myself in the snowy northern mountains of South Korea, in a monastery with a open heart but most importantly, open ears….
   
    
To be continued …..

 

His Ways Are Higher

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:6-11

As I drove through the city gates of St.Marc, Haiti, memories of holding on to a word of the Lord that reflected little fruit at the time, came to mind. I remember sitting in a little room decorated by concrete and cement, worshipping Jesus at a time when nothing seemed to go well for Haiti. The word was simple: “

Establish My Presence in the hardest and darkest, during the hardest and darkest moment

”. So we did what we could – we worshipped and prayed faithfully no matter what we saw outside the gates. To tell you the truth, sometimes it seemed hopeless. Whether people were recovering from the earthquake, or trying to survive cholera, there was little to see in the physical realms of any progress. But we did all we could to hold on to the truth that worshipping God manifests His presence. No questions asked. It didn't matter how we felt, what we saw or how many people died. All that mattered, was His Word and His faithfulness to complete it.

I left that season with so many questions.

Was there a purpose to the prayer room? Did we accomplish anything? Did I pray enough?

And on and on my mind would spin with only the supremacy of God and His sovereignty to give me any kind of peace. That may be enough for some, but my anxious mind wanted tangible answers. I guess I was just being human wanting to dodge an opportunity for faith in exchange for “proof” to ease my ego.

             Yet after four years, in His own timing, God gave me the privilege to return to Haiti to show me His faithfulness. That little prayer room that we pursued in faith, has now turned into a newly built prayer chapel for the Lord. YWAM Haiti embraced the need to prioritize His presence and established a physical space to symbolize what is most important to them. Some of you, extended your faith into this amazing project and YWAM Haiti has sent their love and thanks for believing in their ministry and God’s hope for this nation. Prayers have begun to bear fruit as people have received deep healing from years of hard ministry, disciples have been trained seeing an increase in supernatural fruit on the mission field, and new ministries have begun to birth.         Entering Haiti was such a homecoming reminding me of how faithful God is to His words, no matter how hopeless we may feel at the time. Leaving, I was reminded that God’s word has only begun to go forth, and He delights to use us to manifest His Glory all the more.       
          Thank you for praying for Haiti and extending your faith into one of the hardest and darkest nations. Please continue to pray for unity for Haiti so the nation may witness Revival. If God can change my own nation, S.Korea, in one generation, God can do it again for Haiti

Love you all more than you know.