Positively Glorifying God in Negative Circumstances

Some time ago we are at a meeting for the young adults and were listening to the last message on the book of John from Sean Christensen.
It was a great message, and had all to do with following God and not being competitive.  This was the situation with Peter in John 21:18-25, as he questioned Jesus about John’s future—no doubt to measure it against his own God-given calling.  I really like verse 25, but that’s beside the point for today.    What really stuck out to me while listening in the message was verses 18-19.
“Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter was martyred, being crucified upside down.  What really grabbed my attention was the phrase “to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God”.  I guess we, at least according to our western culture, tend to think of glorifying God in terms of positive things.  I don’t know– things like giving praise to God, doing the right thing, leading someone into a relationship with God.  And those things certainly do give glory to God.
But maybe because of the history and values of our country’s founding, we tend to see persecution and things like martyrdom as a shame.  We may sometimes see it as honorable, but do we think of it as something that does indeed bring glory to God?  After all, someone was loyal to the point of death, and faithful in the proclamation of His name.
There’s a man right now who is imprisoned in the middle east for his faith.  We here demand justice, demand his release and safety.  I agree.  But through his trial and persecutions, the Gospel has gone forth.  Hundreds of thousands have been preached to, and have heard the Gospel where otherwise they wouldn’t have had the opportunity.  This has brought forth fruit for the Gospel.  It has brought glory to God.  Did it have to be this way?  Yes, he has been losing his life for the sake of the Gospel.
I certainly wish martyrdom on no one.  I’m not saying go set out to make yourself one.  That would be foolish– and perhaps the motivation would be glory for oneself than for God.  But what I’m saying is that it’s important not to see situations in the context of “our life” but rather, what will give glory to God.
After the Triumphal Entry of Jesus in Jerusalem, it says in John 12:24-28a:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am there will my servant be also.  If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.  Now my soul is troubled.  And what shall I say? ‘Father save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.  Father, glorify Your name.”
We ought not to pray to be saved from difficult hours but to bring glory to God in them.
v. 28b: “Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
May it be so.


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