Tag Archives: suffering

Preparing for glory

2 Corinthians 4:17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

From the day we’re born, we’re dying.  We grow, we learn, we love, we laugh, we experience all of the things life has to offer.  But we all reach and end to this life.  Praise be to God that this life is not all there is!  We have something wonderful to look forward to – life eternal.  This life is momentary, but the life after this one is never-ending.

All of the hardships we face here, they’re building us up, conforming us into the image of Christ, from one degree of glory to another.  Sanctification takes place in this life, the Holy Spirit doing His work in us to make us what God intended us to be.  We endure all that there is here for the reward we receive later when sanctification ends and glorification begins.

We carry with us the death of Christ. We die as a reminder both of the fact that sin brought death into the world and a testimony to the fact that Jesus saved us from eternal death.  We live forever with Him because of what He did on the cross.  His death spared us ours.  His resurrection gave us a brief glimpse of what’s coming for us.  What we face here is nothing compared to the glory we’ll see on the other side.  It’s all just part of the journey.

To Lose Is To Gain

Philippians 3:8-9 “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith”

Some times we lose sight of the grace of Jesus Christ. We think that we can add things to our salvation or we feel the need to do things to ensure our salvation. We may feel that we’re not “Christian” enough or someone is more “Christian” than we are. Sometimes we get hung up on our achievements or lack there of. I know for myself, I find myself getting stuck on my past achievements, wishing that I had the zeal and energy that I had when I was younger.

No matter where we come from or what we do, our faith in Jesus Christ alone is enough. We’ll never be good enough on our own and we don’t have to be. It’s not through good works that we have been made righteous, but through our total surrender to Christ. The truth is, the more we know Christ and the further we follow Him, the more we will let go of our own understanding. We will see our little self-righteous “kingdoms” that we’ve built topple to the ground, so that we might gain Christ and be found in Him. For some of us it will be painful, but it’s one of the times where to lose truly is to gain.

Romans: Sharing with Christ

Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

We, the adopted children of God, are now officially sons and daughters of the King of Kings.  And what does this mean beyond the fact that we are forgiven of our sins and brought into fellowship with God as part of His family?  It means we get everything.

Everything?  Yes, if we are children of God then we are heirs, just as Jesus Christ is the Heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).  What’s His is ours.  That’s…the glory and the suffering.

We’re called to more than just living a good life here and now on this earth when we enter into God’s family.  We are given incredible gifts from the Father, but there is more to this life than what we receive.  We have the privilege now of sharing with Christ in His sufferings.

Because we’re children of God, those who aren’t may take offense to our disposition and seek to harm us, whether physically or just emotionally and spiritually.  We may not always be happy all the time because in this world there is evil and injustice that will not be eradicated until Christ returns.  Oh, but when He does, we get to share in His glory.  When that time comes, everything in this life will have been worth it.

The joy of pain

James 1:2-4  Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

 Sometimes the best thing that can happen to you is a tragedy.  Sometimes the thing that puts you on the path you need to be on is pain and suffering.  No one wants to face those things, but in reality they point us to God.

When things are going perfectly, we often have a tendency to overlook God’s role in the blessings we’re enjoying.  Maybe every now and then we give thanks, but when it’s smooth sailing there is little time really spent calling out to God.

But when the going gets tough, it’s time to hit our knees.  We cry out to God and beg Him to get us through this painful circumstance.  We talk to Him more, trust in Him more, exercise greater faith, and grow more spiritually than we ever do during the good times.

It’s often said that if there’s no pain there’s no gain, but we seem to think this doesn’t apply to spiritual matters.  The truth is, pain produces growth spiritually, and it perfects us a little bit at a time as we grow closer to God in the midst of our trials.  So next time you’re going through a rough patch, give thanks to God for the opportunity to become more like His Son.  Rely on Him to get you through to the end.

Count it all joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4, 12 ESV)

This verse can be hard to swallow, but recently, I’ve been able to embrace it in ways that I haven’t before. Trials are just easier when the presence of God is evident. Everything has purpose and meaning, and we don’t have to understand it. Knowing that our purpose is unfolding daily with God in the captain’s seat, and knowing that trials don’t define our day, but are just a part of them, really puts this in perspective.

Quite simply, the presence of God when trouble appears, is better than a day without God. What a beautiful promise that God makes following trials.

In Opposition

It’s hard at times, isn’t it? For as hard as one may try to live that good life, that example that is given in love and honesty, strengthened by the teachings of Christ, the truth is that it almost always seems as if someone somewhere is going to take exception to you. It’s one of those frustrating truths that sort of always seems to come out.

But then, can one really be that terribly surprised? If the perfect Son of God found Himself amidst the challenges of those who opposed Him (Matthew 22:15-22) despite all that He was and that He meant for humanity, suffering even unto His death, (Mark 14:53-65, Mark 15:21-41) then, in our own imperfect nature, what chance does any one of us have? If Christ Himself couldn’t please all of the people all of the time despite the fact that He had come to save all humanity, than how can we expect ourselves, in trying to live our lives, to find that we have any more of a chance?

No, the real challenge of Christian living, of being a disciple of Christ is not a question of if we meet opposition in our lives, it is not a question of whether or not we are challenged by those around us, if we are liked by those around us. The real question is a matter of how we meet them. It is a matter of how  we respond when it seems as if we are overwhelmed by the burdens of dealing with those who do not like us, who, for one reason or another, have taken exception to us.

The truth is that sometimes it is harder than others, sometimes it hits us harder than others. Sometimes it seems to pile up on us until finally we wonder exactly what is going on as we feel the pressure and the weight of it all. We don’t want it to affect us but, in a way, we just can’t seem to help it. After all, we are made to be social creatures, to exist with  companionship, whether it is marriage or relationships, friendships or acquaintanceships, with others. (Genesis 2:18)

God knows that we are going to have confrontations. Then again, it doesn’t take the Almighty, Omnipotent and Omnipresent sight of God to understand and to see that. Yet He also knows that, for as much as they may affect us, they aren’t what defines us. What defines us, what defines the love, the hope and the beauty of our souls is the way that we react to it. It is why, each and every step of the way, He seeks to show us the path towards righteousness, telling us that, though the race may be long, we need to run it with endurance, living with patience and love even towards those who have shown nothing but malice and hatred towards us. (Matthew 5:43-48)

You see, life is hardly going to be fair and there are times when it isn’t going to be right. It is during these moments when the only thing that can be done is that we live according to the people that God intended us to be, realizing that even though we are in this world we are not of it. (Romans 12:2) In other words, as the great Reformer Martin Luther once put it, “You can’t stop the birds from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair.” For as negative as it may become, only you can let it have any power over you. Only you and you alone can let it wear you down or affect your mindset.

That doesn’t mean that you should not respond when you are attacked, or when the opposition you face comes to meet you head on. What it does mean is that the Disciple need to remember that whatever worries or stress it may cause, God is the one looking out for you, He is protecting you from trouble that it may be bring and, as such, it makes no sense in giving yourself grief over it. (Matthew 6:25-34) In the end it is going to be as it needs to be, for better or for worse, even as the Disciple comes to understand that the worst will always end up giving way to the better if they trust in the wondrous and divine nature of God’s grander design.

What opposition do you face in your daily walk? What challenges from others burden you? Lay them at Christ’s feet, go to God’s throne and kneel, praying that the hearts of those who may dislike you are changed, but also praying that your own heart is changed so that you are able to look past to the brighter future God has in store for you, realizing that sometimes life is just full of opposition but that is life and other people’s problem, not yours, even when they try to make it yours.

It is then that the peace that you seek will not be far behind as you focus yourself on the things you can change and trouble yourself not with those that you cannot.