From Suffering to Glory

Hello friends and family!

The past two weeks in London have been absolutely amazing. We have continued to meet new people and we have had some really great conversations with them. I have enjoyed getting to know the people we’ve met here. I think it all comes with one of the main things that have been emphasized while here: start where people are. To see where people are at we must first get to know them.  If you can see where people are at then you can see where the gospel intersects with their life and  connect there. We have been able to have genuine conversations with people that we can actually call our FRIENDS. Before coming I don’t think I believed I would be able to leave here with actual friends, but once again God proves me wrong.

This past week we took a brief trip to the English countryside, specifically the Cotswold area. We stayed in this small town of about 3,000 called Moreton-in-Marsh. We romped through meadows on a 5.5 mile walk through fields and cow pastures and just enjoyed being in God’s beautiful creation and around one another. We went to Borton-on-the-Water another day, which was probably one of the cutest little towns that I’ve ever been in. It rained a bit, as typical for England, but we didn’t let that get us down. It was a great time to rest and be rejuvenated before returning to the busy city to finish our last two weeks.

These past two weeks we have emphasized two things in our daily Bible study: suffering and false glory (aka, idols). In keeping with our theme verse, all suffering ultimately leads to the glory of God. We intensely studied John 11, which is about Jesus raising Lazarus, one of his good friends and the brother of Mary and Martha, from the dead. When Jesus hears that his good friend is ill, he says, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Jesus stays with Mary and Martha for 2 days, and then leaves again… with his sick friend STILL sick! At this point I’m sure Mary and Martha (as well as anyone who reads this), is like “what up, Jesus?! Why’d you leave? You could’ve saved him RIGHT THERE, just like you’ve saved others from their diseases!” Anyways, he leaves and heads to Judea with his disciples. A few days later, Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus has died and they’re going back to be with Mary and Martha. When Jesus got Lazarus’ tomb he knows that Lazarus is already dead. Martha runs to Jesus and is like, “Jesus! Why didn’t you do anything?! If you were here Lazarus wouldn’t have died!” She is obviously hurting and her heart cries out to him. Jesus replies with theology, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11: 25-26). Jesus now calls Mary, who has been sitting inside by herself weeping. Mary runs out and falls at Jesus’ feet, proclaiming that if Jesus had been here then Lazarus wouldn’t have died. Jesus knew what Mary needed at that time, and it wasn’t theology like he gave Martha. Jesus weeps with her and asks to be taken to Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus commands the stone to be rolled away from the tomb, but Martha protests. She knows that bodies that have been dead for 4 days stink! But Jesus reminds her of what he said before, that if you believe you will see God’s glory. Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb… and out he comes.

Jesus knew that he would raise Lazarus from the dead when he left for Judea. He was so incredibly intentional in doing that. He took something that would be good (healing Lazarus) and made it into something great (raising Lazarus from the dead). I’m sure I would’ve been confused at first by what Jesus said when Lazarus was sick, that this illness does not lead to death and that God will be glorified through it. How confusing that must’ve been for the disciples and all around?! Jesus knew at that point that he would raise Lazarus. Furthermore, for the ones who have surrendered to Jesus we now have eternal life in heaven through his death (John 5:24, 1 John 5:11). No struggles on this earth will ultimately lead to death because we have eternal life. I would love to be able to say through all my struggles “this (insert struggle here) does not lead to death, but it is for the glory of God.” That brings so much peace! God uses our suffering to bring us closer to Him and to see him glorified in our own lives. This doesn’t mean that in our sufferings we cannot be sorrowful, for Jesus himself wept with Mary when Lazarus was dead. However, through our suffering we are not without hope. Romans 5:3-5 illustrates this perfectly, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” SufferingàEnduranceàCharacteràHOPE.

Wow, how amazing is God? How amazing is Jesus? I can’t even go a day while being here without just standing in awe of his goodness and greatness.

Please email me any prayer requests that you have so that I can be praying for you. I would really appreciate that. My email is bawilkes@live.unc.edu

There are some things that we would love for you to be praying for us.

  1. Pray that we wouldn’t give up just because it’s near the end. Relationships can still be made and conversations can still be had. We can’t determine what God does with a seed that’s planted here. A small conversation could move people closer to Christ.
  2. Pray that we do not undervalue these conversations. Pray for the people that we have met. I estimate we have met at least 100 people while here.
  3. Please pray for their hearts, that they would be open to knowing their Creator and they would begin to ask questions about Him.
  4. Pray that we can be bold in our conversations and not be afraid to ask THEM questions about where they are in their faith, if they don’t believe at all or if they are questioning… anything.
  5. Pray that we are not afraid. God has equipped us to do His work here on the earth, and he knows exactly what we need and has given to to us.
  6. Pray that we can sharpen each other. Proverbs 27:17 says, “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Pray that we sharpen each other in our time here.

Thanks, friends. See you in less than two weeks!!

Bethany

The Eagle and Child--the pub in Oxford where CS Lewis frequented.

The Eagle and Child–the pub in Oxford where CS Lewis frequented.

DSCN0909

The Bell Inn--where JRR Tolkien wrote much of The Hobbit. A lot of Bree is similar to Moreton-in-Marsh (where we stayed) and the Prancing Pony is modeled after the Bell.

The Bell Inn–where JRR Tolkien wrote much of The Hobbit. A lot of Bree is similar to Moreton-in-Marsh (where we stayed) and the Prancing Pony is modeled after the Bell.

Team photo in the countryside

Team photo in the countryside

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