At first glance, Quimper, France seemed to be an attractive town. The public parking garage, however, where we would need to park our rental car if we wanted to visit the town on foot, was certainly less than desirable. The ceiling was quite low, compared to North American standards, but it was the side walls that were the most frightening. They were about the same distance apart as the width of our car, and they twisted and turned abruptly as they headed straight downward. Interestingly, they were covered with clear markings from the cars of former tourists who had tried to park here before us…
What was this? A hobbit-town parking garage?
Fortunately for us all, my wife, who was driving, doesn’t give up easily. She knew how much we wanted to visit the city, and she expertly backed up and straightened out the car several times on each of the numerous turns, in order to line the car up as perfectly as possible. In so doing, we didn’t add to the scrapes on the walls, and perhaps even more importantly, we didn’t incur for ourselves the hefty repair bill from the rental car company that would have been ours if we had decided to further “decorate” those narrow walls!
In all, it was a frightening experience! How easy it would have been for us to give up. In fact, the only reason we didn’t give up was that we were focused at our destination: visiting the lovely old city of Quimper.
Once the car was finally parked and we were again outside in the open air, we were in awe. Everywhere we looked there were myriads of flowers: on bridges, beside the river, in gardens, on houses, all over the old town. We didn’t even know it at that time, but Quimper is renowned for the national prizes it has received for being the best flower-decorated town in France! And to make this place even more romantic, the old town consists of very old, but well-maintained, wooden houses, with a picturesque cathedral that can be seen from afar. And what luck! We were there just in time for an open air street market! Why is my wife smiling with excitement, while my 17 year old cringes???
Quimper is definitely a city worth visiting, even though its parking garages are a living nightmare. We would have missed one of the most beautiful places in France if we had given into our fear!
Jesus didn’t face a hobbit-kind of nightmare like we did. He faced way worse: an unpleasant and torturous death!
Even though Jesus faced agony just before his arrest, even though it must have seemed that the walls were closing in on Him, He went through His ordeal in peace. He encountered false accusations. He was declared “worthy of death!” (Matthew 26:66, NIV2). He was struck repeatedly and viciously by his accusers. He was flogged. He was ridiculed. And then He was led to the place of His execution. And even on Calvary He had no support: “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!'” (Matthew 27:39-40, NIV2)
Imagine if we were in His place. Would we have continued on? It would have been easy enough, after all, to back up and just “skip” that whole incident! He was the Son of God and could call twelve legions of angels at any time (See Matthew 26:53). But He didn’t. He was focused on God, and Him alone, (See John 6:38) and because of His great faithfulness, He brought not only salvation at our very doors, but also hope. He can identify with everything we go through, for He, too, faced the impossible.
“But,” you say, “there are times when I can’t even feel God’s presence!”
Jesus experienced that too.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46b, NIV2)
The One Who had always been in intimate contact with God Himself stopped feeling God’s presence. And believe me, that was way harder than anything else He endured. Still He didn’t give up. Moments before breathing His last breath, He still confided in God: “‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When He had said this, He breathed His last.” (Luke 23:46, NIV2)
Have we ever considered that what we endure in life is a battle for our very soul? The One who suffered for us guarantees our victory: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57, NIV2) This is why we are encouraged to: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. ” (1 Corinthians 15:58a, NIV2)
We truly have nothing to fear or worry about. Jesus is our victory, and He loves each one of us! Why else would He have willingly died on a lonely cross?
But our enemy wants our total destruction. Giving in to our fears and worries will lead to misery and eventually defeat. After all, his goal is “to steal and kill and destroy…” (John 10:10a, NIV2)
Right now we are all facing a choice: To either trust in God or trust in our fears. There are no other alternatives. Which one is more trustworthy to you?
Now how are we going to get this car out of this Quimper parking garage?
(To access the entire “When Suffering Knocks on our Door” devotional series, please click here.)