“who is in heaven…” Matthew 6:9
The God to whom we pray, even the Father who calls us his children, is also the one who dwells in heaven. Because of this, the servants of God, who have ventured into the enemy lines, often times feel themselves cut off from him. Yet we are always to trust that our Father, into whose hands we commit our souls, is always ready to help us with heavenly assistance.
Like the ancient Jews, in whose faces were flung the insignias of Roman oppression, the church is to expect shame and reproach in this life (MT 5:39; 10:28; 24:9). Like Israel, we are to sojourn as strangers and pilgrims here on earth, even becoming a byword amongst our own culture. “All men will hate you,” says our Lord Jesus, “because of my name”(MT 10:22). For this reason, we are never to expect, in this life, to dwell in some oasis of tranquility. So long as we are at a distance from our Father, we are to expect many difficulties. God’s dear servants, however, as they are scattered from city to city, are to believe that their shackles carry them into an eternal rest.
In ourselves, it would be impossible to complete our pilgrimage. Our Lord has called us into many dangers, commanding us all the while to yield to our antagonists. To love our enemies, to pray for those who harm us, and to turn our cheek when slapped (MT 5:44; MT 5:39): these activities are too difficult for us to bear on our own. The strongest one of us, who is able to endure a thousand lashes, will break eventually, not to mention those of us whose hearts are naturally tender. When we are made to walk into an arena of hostility, being surrounded on all sides by violence, how despondent we would be to look around for help, knowing that we were left to ourselves by a God far away.
It was fitting, then, that our Lord Jesus, in dipping down into the Jordan, might arise to find the heavens opened, and the Spirit descending upon him (MT 3:13-16). In this way, the Lord demonstrates to us that he alone is our perpetual fountain of assistance, the one who brings heavenly comfort into our earthly misery. So long as we cleave to him, though we wander in a hostile wilderness, we will always receive that secret power of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we are granted a perpetual healing balm, a heavenly medicine descending into our innermost parts. We are empowered, thereby, to persist in whatever post the Lord has placed us. Though Satan will assault us much in this life, even laying us on many death beads, we are to expect a heavenly resuscitation with every morning dawn.
Yet those who live by aggression and deceit, though often enjoying numerous luxuries, are promised none of the gifts reserved for God’s children. They, in fact, are promised the opposite. The oppressors of this life, finding themselves distant from God’s heavenly throne, think that they have no judgment awaiting them. They, therefore, fill their armories with missiles and machetes, struggling with all their energy to retain power, thinking that by doing so they will have perpetual security. They do not realize that when the Lord comes, and sits on his throne of glory, he will divide the nations before him as a shepherd separating sheep and goats. All who practiced violence and manipulation, rather than being welcomed into a heavenly rest, will be cast away forever (MT 25:41-46). This is a great lesson for the oppressors of this world. These men laugh at the church without any hesitation, thinking that God’s servants, because they turn their cheeks in love, have no one who contends for their cause. Yet if these oppressors knew the power which is currently descending upon them, they would plead for God’s people to pray for them, hoping that the martyrs, through their powerful petitions, might call down mercy instead of justice.
Let us never fear, therefore, that we have become abandoned in our sojourn. Instead, we must always believe that our Father hears us when we pray, and he continually showers us with his heavenly grace. For, the Lord Jesus Christ, in granting his people the Holy Spirit, always catches them up into the heavenly shelter of the Most High God, even into the embrace of our Father in Heaven. This then is the perpetual promise for those who present their hearts to Christ. So long as they trust in his power, casting away the strife of this world, they will enjoy daily deliverance from all Satan’s assaults. They will walk with the heavens continually rent above them, and the Spirit daily descending into their hearts. Let us live, then, by that secret wisdom of the Most High God, even our Lord Jesus Christ – that Heavenly Torah which has descended into our purview. Let us find succor in that hidden medicine for our souls, even the Holy Spirit who mends all our brokenness. Let us cast all our cares on our Father, believing that he will not permit our earthly pilgrimage to mitigate his heavenly assistance. And may we expect, in the many troubles we encounter, that God will always supply our every need, bringing us unharmed through many dangers, until we are brought safely into our heavenly rest.