We live in a part of the world where comfort is our way of life. If we are taken out of our elements we automatically tend to think that God has forsaken us, or that we should just give up. What we don’t understand or take into account is that we have to have faith no matter what we do or what is coming against us, knowing that Jesus the Christ has our back, weather we are making a mistake or not.
The sufferings we go through today are not in any comparison to our prior Christian brothers and sisters who paved the way for us. It is through their sufferings, bad choices and ideals that we learned about in their stories that help us try not to repeat it ourselves. Yes of course we suffer and some of us big time…. But you have to admit we have more freedoms than they did.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.
Have any of you been through all of this? Been beaten several times, bound, been in prison for no fault of your own, almost killed again and again, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked several times, lost at sea, robbed, betrayed by family and friends, in danger no matter where you go, worked so hard you don’t even get sleep, hungry, thirsty and naked with no one to help?
Most of us have been through a few of these things, some more than others. I myself have been beaten, betrayed, almost killed, robbed, hungry and definitely have felt shipwrecked! Yet still, I can’t even imagine how anyone could go through all of that and still keep the faith as strong as Paul did.
Although I have been through a lot in my life, like I’m sure you have and will be going through. I believe God will give us what we can endure and no more. We need to realize how much He loves us that He will let us go through something so we can be something.
2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Consider it pure Joy? What a statement! I know I have never gone through horrible things in my life with the first thought being joy… Have you? It speaks volumes to a person who can see the difference in someone who is very young and hasn’t been through anything and someone who has been through a lot in life. The difference between the two will be very noticeable. If you can sustain the blows and keep on going, you are maturing and developing perseverance and character. If you crumble at every little thing, don’t be discouraged and don’t give up, ask God to help you develop strength and character for your future trials.
3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
When I see the word Rejoice, I don’t believe in my heart that God says we are going to be throwing a party over our suffering while we are in the midst of it, but that we should be glad that we know the Lord in such a way that we are going to get through this and come out better, than going in. We are not going to get stuck in our suffering forever, it will pass….IT WILL PASS.
1 Peter 4:12-16
12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
Sometimes it’s very hard to explain to someone as to why if we are Christians and serve such an awesome God, why we are going though so much. What needs to be understood is that the crown that we are wanting is not here on earth but with the Lord. I’d rather suffer for God now here on earth and live my life as a believer, then live my life as if he didn’t exist and live eternal life without God later.
This life is so temporary, we can see that just looking at our lives or the lives of everyone in our world history. They came and went and some impacted our lives and some we never even heard of or will never hear about.
1 Peter 5:8-11
8Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
The suffering doesn’t last forever. We need to keep God in the forefront of our vision, the enemy is waiting for a small window of opportunity to devour you. We need to keep in mind how angry the devil is that we chose the Kingdom of God and not his. Yes the suffering will come but as sure as it comes it will go, I promise……
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (New International Version)
6For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. 7I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
If only I can develop the faith of Paul….. How faithful and powerful it is to go through all those struggles and trials and still claim in the end that you ran a good race of faith.
What is your take away?