Suffering….can it be our finest hour?

Suffering will come to all the saints.  Consider the verses in Philippians 3:8-10…

Paul said that he would gladly suffer the loss of all things to win Christ.  This is in no way trying to earn acceptance with Christ.  Paul is saying that he would gladly give all he had, all the accomplishments, and all that he was as a Hebrew (verse 5) to be unencumbered to know Christ (verse 10).  He makes it clear that he stands in the righteousness of Christ by faith (verse 9).  But verse 10 is telling us that those of us who know Him (Christ), and the power of His resurrection, will suffer.   It says …”the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death”.  We will be identified with Him in His sufferings. The suffering and death of Jesus Christ, He was completely surrendered to His Father at all times.  He was doing the Father’s will, and did that with no thought to His own will, or the pain He would go through. In this …was His strength, courage, peace…and JOY.  In Hebrews 12:1-2, it tells us…”looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”   I Peter 5:10 says…”But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Jesus Christ, after ye have suffered a while, make you perfect (mature), establish (stabilizing grace), strengthen (strengthening grace), and settle you (settling grace).”  Because He is the God of all grace….His grace is sufficient (II Corinthians  12:9)…so He is sufficient.  It is Him who fills…the scriptures say…. “He satiates the soul”….of the weary and suffering soul with His Goodness (Jere.31:13b,14,25).

For those of you who are suffering, may He satiate your soul with His Goodness…He is always Good.  He cannot be anything apart from Good.  (The sovereignty of God does not always “feel” good, but He is always Good.  Rest in Him.

Here are some thoughts:

  • Suffering will come as we seek to identify with Christ.
  • Amy Carmichael said…referring to suffering and not knowing the answer as to why….”We are trusted by God with the unexplained.”  Amy suffered much the last 20 years of her life.
  • Seek the Lord now spiritually, so as to be able to have an attitude of gratitude when the time comes to suffer for Him.  It will take time and discipline now…. to develop a life of praise and thanksgiving to Him in all things.
  • When suffering comes, we will have to dig deeper….for deeper joy in Him.  Remember…gold doesn’t lay on top of the ground; diamonds form from extreme pressure; a pearl starts as a grain of sand irritating…!!!!
  • The Lord’s perspective is different from ours.  He will not withhold from His child anything that will bring that child into greater sweet fellowship with Him…even if it causes pain at times in the life of the child He loves deeply.
  • As we suffer, the pain we experience here becomes part of the process of “letting loose” of the things of this life…”the things of earth become strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
  • As we respond to others stories of grief, suffering, pain, or loss, be careful to be sensitive to their need at that time.  Let them talk, listen carefully…but do not make it “your story” by telling about your time of suffering.  Remember “it is not about you…”  It is their time to grieve, weep, and need support.  They need a friend to listen and support them.
  • Just think ….this season of suffering may be your finest hour.

Five Ways Afflictions Help

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

This verse shows that God sends affliction to help us learn His Word. How does that work? How does affliction help us learn and obey the word of God?

There are innumerable answers, as there are innumerable experiences of this great mercy. But here are five:

  1. Affliction takes away the glibness of life and makes us more serious, so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s word. And mark this: There is not a single glib page in the book of God.
  2. Affliction knocks worldly props out from under us and forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the Word.  For the aim of the Word is that we hope in God and trust him. “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). “These [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31).
  3. Affliction makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
  4. Affliction brings us into the partnership of Christ’s sufferings, so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through His eyes. Paul’s great heart longing was “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship (may share) of His sufferings, being made conformable (becoming more like Him) in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
  5. Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame and makes us receptive to the spiritual Word of God. “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). Suffering has a great sin-killing effect. And the more pure we are, the more clearly we see God (Matthew 5:8). {copied in part}

May the Holy Spirit give us grace to not begrudge the teaching of God through pain, affliction and suffering.  His grace is sufficient. (11 Corinthians 12:9) He is faithful…always. (1 Thess. 5:24; 11 Thes. 3:3;  Phil. 1:6)  He says in Jeremiah 31:13b, 14, and 25 that He will saturate the soul of the weary and sorrowful with His Goodness.  Truly, having the Awesome Lord that we serve saturate our soul …literally with Himself in His Goodness…is an amazing experience.  That means for us who have suffered in life’s trials…maybe through no fault of our own, but just as life brings them to us, we can know in our soul the everlasting, awesome Goodness of God. (This is assuming that we know Him as personal Savior, and accepted Him as the payment for our sins on the cross.  If you need to understand that Bible truth, go to the home page, and click on “Where will I spend Eternity?” God not only wants to be your Father and Savior, but He will walk with you through your afflictions. May He Bless you.)

Suffering and Trials:

 

         Victoria Falls:

Victoria Falls (or Mosi-oa-Tunya) is a waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. David Livingstone, the Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls on 16 November 1855 from what is now known as Livingstone Island, one of two land masses in the middle of the river, immediately upstream from the falls on the Zambian side. Livingstone named his discovery in honour of Queen Victoria, but the indigenous name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—”the smoke that thunders”—continues in common usage as well.

 Victoria Falls is the largest falls in the world.  It is a mile wide and there is 1000 ft. drop.  It also has the world’s largest rapids. In classifying these rapids, they are a “7 & 8”, which by comparison, in the USA, a “5” is the legal rapid on which to raft.

 A man, donning his life jacket, was preparing to attempt to raft these rapids when he was told:

When the raft flips (not if it flips…but when), do not go to the calm waters on the side of the river.  You will be tempted to do so ….but do not.  Lurking in the calm, still, stagnant waters are alligators. They are waiting for you to come there.  Stay in the rapid white water.  The rapid white water is where safety is.

 In life we are tempted to try to go to the place where things are not in such turmoil and the tempest is not raging.  But the Lord has designed the white water for out good and His Glory.  That is where He is growing us, showing us Himself, and proving Himself to be faithful.

 Sometimes in our lives when there is calm, we get lax, let our guard down, and become victim to the things in life that cause destruction.  We can be tempted to trust in our own strength and wisdom, thinking we are doing OK.  We do not grow in the calm as much as when we have something thrusting us into the very arms of Jesus.

 C. H. Spurgeon said…

“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.”

 Phil. 1:27-30a :

 “Only let your conversation (conduct) be as it becometh the gospel of Christ, that …I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel; and in nothing terrified by your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake….”

 Verse 28: the word “terrified” is referring to a horse that panics in battle (fear in battle that leads to disastrous results)….. scared, and ready to bolt.

Don’t bolt…stay the course…stay in the “white water rapids”:

  • they are by God’s design
  • to draw us to Himself (“be found in Him”…Phil. 3:9)
  • in a closer walk with Him
  • a greater manifestation of Christ in our life
  • to a greater (deeper) belief (trust) in Him
  • through this “suffering” for His sake, He is magnified
  • experience his everlasting arms around us
  • penetrated with His everlasting love (Jere.31:3)
  • saturated with Him in strength
  • fulfilled in His purpose
  • sensing His perspective on the eternal
  • strengthened in spirit by his victory in us and through us
  • ….and knowing in the depths of our soul that… He Is Enough…!!!!

 

The result is that ….

-the things of earth become strangely dim…

-our sight becomes fixed on Jesus….

-we sense what it means to be “crucified with Christ” (Gal. 2:20)

-we get a glimpse of the “fellowship of His suffering” (Phil. 3:10)

-we see and know the “power of the resurrection” in our lives (Phil. 3:10)

-we see the Crucified with enhanced spirit vision….

 11 Tim. 3:12 – 14

“Yea, and all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.  But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.  But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of Whom thou hast learned them.”

1 Peter 4:12 – 13

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, that, when His glory  shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Elisabeth Elliot says…”Think of your pain, trial, troubles as a challis, to be held up and offered up to the Lord, even in the midst of your suffering…stop what you are doing and offer it up as an act of worship……..anything offered up to God  becomes a gateway to joy.”

What is worship…is it not giving back to Him what is already His?  …ourselves?  our money?

Our praise and adoration already belongs to Him…He is worthy of all of it.

Should we not offer up the trial that He gives us?  The situation is His; it is of His doing;

All things are from His hand (Colos. 1:15-18).  Can we trust that nail-pierced hand?

When we lay it at His feet, are we not worshiping Him in all things?

What work is that doing in our heart…is it not saying to Him exactly what Christ said to Him in the garden of Gethsemane?

 “ Father…  not my will, but Thine be done.” (Luke 22:42)

 Did the Father suffer with Christ in the garden, and on Calvary?

(He suffers with us, as we suffer for Him.)

 Was the Father touched with that suffering?

 He is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”…

Does he care how we feel?  Yes, offer that up to Him as an act of worship.

He suffers with us (Hebr. 4:13-16) (I Peter 5:7)

It is Ok to say …”Lord, you know I do not want to do this, but I will do it for you.”

Then offer it up to Him in an act of worship.  Make daily things an offering up in worship.

 Here are some results of suffering (which is a gift of His grace), and points to the reality that you are genuinely His:

  1. It strengthens the testimony of the one that endures.
  2. Weeds out superficial beliefs/believers.
  3. Crushes our pride (suffer shame for His name).
  4. Adds to our future rewards
  5. Weans us from self-sufficiency and self-promotion
  6. Informs us we are not in control
  7. Causes us to worship God with purified motives
  8. We stop asking for temporal trivial things.

 Acts 5: 40-41…”beaten…rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

Smile, open our eyes, love, and go on!

As widows we must be careful of our perspective.

It is so difficult to find the pieces after the death of our mate.

It seems difficult to sort through the grief, sorrow and pain.

This is a “perspective” that was given to me after the Homegoing of my husband:

 

“We can shed tears that He is gone, or we can smile because he has lived.

We can close our eyes and pray that he will come back, or we can open our eyes and see all that he has left us.

Our hearts can be empty because we cannot see him, or we can be full because of the love we shared.

We can turn our backs on tomorrow and live yesterday, or we can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

We can remember him and only that he is gone, or we can cherish his memory and let it live  on.

We can close our minds, be empty, and turn back, or we could do what he would want…

Smile, open our eyes, love, and go on!”

 

 

Sovereignty

In Genesis chapter 50, there is a very amazing statement of the sovereignty of God in the life of Joseph. It says in verse 20:

…”God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day…”

There are things in this life that are very difficult. They seem so much like what…. is not suppose to be. These things are not what we expected, and maybe are so not what we really want in the depth of our hearts. Things did not work out the way we expected our Lord to work His plan in our lives. We just can’t imagine ourselves in the situation we are in.
What do we do?

We must look at the very character of God and see who He is. Is He a good God?

I am sure that Joseph over a period of 13 years did not always see what His God was doing in His life, but he trusted the Lord in His heart.

Here Joseph could say that in the hand of God, this has all come to good. Why? Because God is Good and He has a plan.
Psalm 21:3 says, “For Thou dost meet Him with the blessings of goodness….”

Jeremiah 31:14 says, “…I will satiate (fill to the full) the soul… my people shall be satisfied with my goodness.”

May the Lord fill us full of Himself, that we may stand in awe of His goodness no matter what comes into our lives.