Isaiah 53:11 “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.”
There is a process for every accomplishment. In order to excel at anything you must follow the prescribed pattern for success. For example, a musician must spend hours rehearsing his instrument, an athlete must build muscle and prowess through regular exercise, and a student must focus on his studies to achieve a degree. But many people like to circumvent the process. They like to look for a shortcut!
As a child I lived in Northern New Jersey just outside New York City. Our house was nestled among many others with only alleys and driveways for separation. To visit our Grandma several blocks away we needed to walk to the bottom of our hill on Stewart Avenue, follow the River Road (Passaic Avenue), cut the corner on Jefferson Avenue to the Manner Park, take the sidewalk around the park, and then walk to the end of Hamilton Avenue before we would reach Grandma’s house. This took up an awful lot of time so Uncle Chuck and I developed a network of shortcuts.
If we crossed the street and snuck through the neighbor’s yard, dashed down the alley of the neighbor behind that, and then cut through the park, we could eliminate a good deal of time. I mean, the shortest distance between two places is a straight line, right?
This method of travel was only good if we didn’t get caught. The house across the street from us was vacant, but the other neighbors didn’t always take too kindly to young trespassers invading their space. Then there was always the problem of unfriendly watchdogs that would make a racquet or threaten us. Sometimes it really wasn’t worth the shortcut!
While there is no real good shortcut for certain physical goals like athletic or musical accomplishment, neither are there any shortcuts in the spiritual realm. J. Vernon McGee (your Great-Grandma’s favorite radio preacher) said, “. . . two themes belong together – suffering and satisfaction. Suffering always precedes satisfaction.”
The Bible constantly reminds us that we will suffer various trials in life, but that these test, prove, and strengthen our faith as we gain victory through the power that God provides. This testing produces endurance resulting in eventual perfection. There is no shortcut to these ends. We must bravely endure, and even count as joy, what God knows will make us strong. Thankfully, the Lord does not send us down a difficult road alone.
Dr. McGee reminds us that even God did not take a shortcut. He sent His perfect Son, Jesus, to suffer the torment of the cross so that we could be made right with God and share in His glory. He didn’t take the easy way out, but did all that was necessary to grant us salvation. The prophet Isaiah was correct: “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied . . .”
When you are in the midst of a trial that is threatening to overwhelm you, don’t look for a convenient shortcut around the problem. Instead, fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Consider all he endured so you will not grow weary and lose heart. Keep going, keep trusting, and remember: there’s no shortcut to spiritual growth!