Women's Ministry


March 2023

The Unbreakable Bond

There is an oft repeated phrase in the New Testament and in many of our cherished hymns that goes something like “to share in his sufferings.” (Phil. 3:10) or “to know You in Your sufferings.” (Knowing you Jesus, G.Kendrick). I have never really understood it, nor to be honest did I wish to. As you may know, my cancer has recently returned. Secondary cancer has a way of bringing a few new perspectives to life. It has led me to think perhaps it is time to put away my reticence and have a good look at what that phrase might mean and how it is lived out. I suspect it is probably another of those life experiences that we grow into, but I now realise one has to be willing to at least look at it, to even begin the trek. This season of the year it is customary to do some reflecting, so the timing is right.

The life’s work of Jesus Christ, which we call the gospel, culminates in what we will soon celebrate in his resurrection; but that could not be the good news it is, without the human birth and the human (glorified) ascension of Jesus back to the Father. As N.T. Wright notes “Part of the central achievement of the incarnation, which is then celebrated in the resurrection and ascension, is that heaven and earth are now joined together with an unbreakable bond and that we too are by rights citizens of both together.” (Surprised by Hope p.251) Jesus’ humanity means that he suffered, not just the sufferings of living in our broken world, but also the suffering of being rejected and beaten by the very ones he came to rescue. And in pain and agony at the very end he absorbed all the iniquity of a fallen, evil world onto himself. Jesus being human and divine—both then and even now—means that he shares with us that unbreakable bond he forged between the human and the divine. His ability to comfort and hold our pain has been forged in the crucible of his work on earth so that he is able to be more present with us and to us in our trials than even a close sibling, spouse or friend can be. We who are in him are citizens of both the human kingdom and the kingdom of God, as Jesus was and still is. In my circumstances, this means that my medical diagnosis and treatment is in the hands of very talented and skilled doctors whose expertise I am very grateful for. However, the final prognosis is not in their purview. Having forged that unbreakable bond between the heavenly kingdom and the earthly one, he shares that bond with me and each of us who are in him. Jesus walks with us in our journey. He provides comforts specific to each, his presence always with us—whether we are actively aware of him or not. It is extremely encouraging to seek and experience his comfort, his intimate understanding. It seems to be another of those epiphanies we only truly begin to grasp when ‘under the gun.’ Understanding the sharing in his sufferings is still ahead of me; however, it is allowing me to see more of how he shares in mine, and that may just be the first step.

“Be still, my soul! For God is on your side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to your God to order and provide, Who through all changes faithful will remain. Be still, my soul! Your best, your heav’nly Friend Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end… Be still, my soul! The waves and winds still know The voice that calmed their fury long ago.” Katharina von Schlegel (1752)

With that unbreakable bond, though we still have citizenship in both worlds, the kingdom citizenship takes priority as we lean into him. Viewing through the kingdom lens, we are assured that Light always overcomes the darkness.


Ruth Matthews