Suffer According to the Will of God

In 1 Peter 4:19 it says, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful creator.”  Here in the United States, so far, we do not know what it is to suffer as our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer in other countries.
The very special truth in this is in the word “commit“. The word here is the same word that Christ used on the cross in Luke 23:46. He said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” These are the same word in the Greek.  The word means “to entrust, put in trust with”. Christ entrusted His spirit to the Heavenly Father on the cross, and this is exactly what He asks us to do when we “suffer according to the will of God”.
He asks us to entrust ourselves into the hands of our faithful creator when we suffer according to the will of God. Christ does not ask us to do something that He has not already done.  Do we know what suffering is?  If we suffer, we can commit ourselves into the hands of our Lord the same way Christ did, and know that He is caring for us as He did for Christ.  ( 1 Thes. 5:24 ) “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.”  It is easy to “commit ourselves” to our Lord who is faithful.

The next thought may be…..what if I am the one who has gotten myself into this mess?  Am I suffering according to the will of God if I made this mess that I am in?

If we know the Lord Jesus Christ as Our Savior, are a child of His, will He ever desert us?  No.  We are loved with and everlasting love (Jere. 31:3).  If a human parent would not desert their child in need, even more so, the Heavenly Father that only knows perfect love…everlasting love, would never desert us in our need.  He knows all about the situation, and is seeking to mature us, and bring glory to Himself through it.

Elizabeth Elliot says that “it is not the trial that determines the character, but our response to the trial”.  She went through many things that were totally not what she expected God to do in her life.  She had waited five and a half years to marry the man she loved.  She gave thanks to God in her singleness, and then was only married 2 years and three months when she became a widow.  She came to thank God for her widowhood also, because she realized that it was all from the hand of a loving gracious God.   Her response to the trial is what brought her closer to the Lord than ever before.  She saw that she had a depth in her spiritual life that she would not have known if the Lord had not allowed that trial in her life.

We must also remember that our Lord Jesus is the sovereign God of the universe that “by Him were all things created…in earth, visible and invisible…..principalities or powers, all things were created by Him and for Him, and by Him all things consist.  And He is the head of the body, the church…that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.  For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell.” ( Colos. 1:16-19)

Christ is the head of the body, so that everything comes into our lives, He has the pre-eminence in that matter.  We think…”OK, I got myself into this mess….”  No…Christ has pre-eminence in ALL things and is sovereign in all things.  Nothing surprises Him ,,,He knew what you would decide and is in control.

We can trust Him.  He is faithful (Phil 1:6).  May we respond to all things that our Good God allows in our lives in such a way so as to become a reflection of the Word of God, and Jesus Christ Himself to those around us that need to see Him.

Only by His Grace and power living through us.  Praise be to Him.

Depression

Depression is a state of being that is unlike your “normal” state.
You do not feel like yourself, and maybe you are acting in ways that are unlike you normally would act. Sometimes you cannot quite put your finger what is wrong but you clearly know that all is “not right”.
Depression can be caused by many things such as medications, illness, physical conditions, emotional situations, and losses. Many losses are very profound….like the loss of a child, or spouse, or a pet; the loss of a job, financial security, or our home; sometimes an illness causes the loss of health or independence.
Symptoms of depression could be:
1.  ongoing sadness, an empty feeling, or anxiety
2.  tired, easily fatigued, exhaustion, or lack of energy
3.  loss of interest in everyday things, no willing to socialize
4.  difficulty in sleeping, or sleeping too much
5.  loss of appetite, or overeating
6.  crying too often, or for no reason
7.  aches and pains that do not respond to treatment
8.  difficulty focusing, paying attention, making choices or remembering
9.  feeling helpless, hopeless, or suffering a loss of self-esteem
10.  feeling anxious, being grumpy or irritable
11. feelings of rejection and despair, thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, you may need to see a health care professional, especially if you are on medication.  Depression is a side effect of some medications.
Please do not ignore these symptoms.
Pray and ask the Lord for help.  Ask Him to give wisdom as to the source of the depression.  Many times one is aware of the cause of the depression, and a Pastor or spiritual Biblical counselor may be of great help.  If the source is not known, do seek help in a Godly Pastor.
For those of us who know the Lord, He is the one who can help us the most.  His Word is the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” ( Hebr. 4:12 ).  His Word can show us what our need is and, if the cause of the depression is sin in our life, He is able and willing to forgive all sin.
Sometimes selfishness, immorality, pride, arrogance, how we have treated others, and other sins in our life over a long period of time can cause us to walk away from the Lord, and become depressed.
Profound losses that come into our lives are probably the biggest cause of depression.  Depression is “normal” after a profound loss.  It is signifying that a great love was lost.  This depression needs to be shared with someone who can help.  Begin with someone who can be trusted, or a professional that knows what to do.
We may feel our loss is so much greater than anyone  else’s loss and that no one really understands.  But we should not compare our loss to someone else’s situation.  Each situation is so different, and each person responds differently to the loss in their life. Each loss can be significant.  Comparing our situations is unwise.

Please be careful:  Telling someone that they are depressed if they really are not, is not wise.  This person may be grieving very deeply and feeling confused with the changes in their life situation.  It may take them a while to work through the grief, and make some sense of their life.  They need someone to listen to what they are saying, and be a “sounding board” for them.  Do not expect them to make perfect sense, as they usually do.  They are often in a state of numbness/shock after a crisis or loss.  They need someone to listen, but do not keep telling them they are depressed.  They may just be grieving deeply and profoundly.  If they do not come out of it in a reasonable length of time, then stick with them and try to help them to the next step.  This is called the “ministry of presence”.  Be there for them and comfort them as Jesus would do if He was by their side.

But having said that:  we as Christians think that we should be exempt from depression. Why do we think that?  Why should we be exempt?  We Christians love very deeply. We know a very deep love from the Lord and from those around us who love Him. We feel losses very profoundly.  But the Lord deeply loves us and He wants to meet each one of us in our own need. We are each special in His sight.  Each of us can be the recipient of that great love.

If you do not personally know the love of God in your life, I would like to share some verses of scripture with you that show the “heart of God” toward you.

Isaiah 43:1-7

 “Thus saith the Lord who created thee,

 Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name;

thou art mine.

When thou passeth through the waters, I will be with thee:

and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:

when thou walkest through the fire, thou shall not be burned,

neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior;

….thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee….

Fear not; for I am with thee…

Even every one who is called by my name;

for I have created him for my glory;

I have formed him; yea, I have made him.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

……”The Lord hath anointed me (referring to Jesus, Luke 4: 16-21)

to preach good tidings unto the meek;

He hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted…..

to comfort all that mourn;

….to give unto them beauty for ashes,

the oil of joy for mourning,

the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness,

that they might be called trees of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord,

that He might be glorified.”

Jeremiah 31:3

“….Yea, I have loved the with an everlasting love:

therefore with loving kindness  have I drawn thee.”

Ezekiel 18:4

“As I live, saith the Lord,

….behold all souls are mine.”

(if you do not know Him personally, as your personal Savior, please go to the section that is entitled  “Where will I spend Eternity” for scriptures on how to know Him.)

Acts 20:24

“None of these things move me,

neither count I my life dear unto myself,

that I might finish my course with joy,

and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus,

to testify the gospel of the grace of God.”

Philippians 1:6

“Being confident of very thing,

that He which hath begun a good work in you

will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

For those of us who are of “the household of faith”,  and truly believe the scriptures

and the God of the scriptures, when things come into our lives that we do not really

understand, this becomes

 a greater walk of faith than we have ever known before.

We take a step back and say “Ok”……

Where is our Rock and our foundation?

Will we continue in Him?

Is He faithful?

  Will I trust Him really? …even when I do no understand?

The disciples came to this point one day (John 6:66-71) when they were with Jesus.  Some of the disciples heard a “hard saying” and some went away.

But Jesus asked His disciples,  “Will you also go away?”

Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go?

Thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”

In Psalm 73, the psalmist begins by saying,

“Truly God is good.”

Then the psalmist goes on to look at his own life and becomes very distressed.  He sees that his foot has slipped (verse 2), he becomes envious of the prosperity of others, kind of like a “woe is me” outlook (verses 3-16), and he becomes very disappointed in his own life.

This is probably where depression sets in.  We only see the circumstances around us and cannot make sense of it.  If we choose to only look around and within, we will get discouraged.

Then in verses 17 to 22, he chooses to look at things from God’s perspective.  He sees what this world is like without God, and he sees his own foolishness.  His heart is grieved, and realizes that God is continually with him.

Verses 23-28:  “Thou hast held me by my right hand.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.”

“Whom have I in Heaven but thee?

And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart,

and my portion forever.

But it is good for me to draw near to God;

I have put my trust in the Lord God,

that I may declare all thy works.”

So the psalmist came to the same conclusion that the disciples came to….

that it is our God who is our refuge and strength (Ps. 46:1).

Jeremiah 16:19 says:

“O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction…”

Psalm 27:4,8,13,14:

“One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after:  that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

“When thou saidest, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, thy face, Lord, will I seek.”

“I would have fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”

“Wait on the Lord;  be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart.  Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

My encouragement to you when things just do not make sense, seek Him as you have never sought Him before.  He never leaves us or forsakes us (Hebr. 13:5).  He chooses to love us unconditionally and always hears our prayers.  Immerse yourself in the  scriptures and get to know the God of the scriptures.  Allow the risen Christ to take over in your heart.  We are saved by His death on the cross, but we are saved by His life….

…”being reconciled we shall be saved by His life,

and not only so, but we also joy in God,

through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom

we have now received the reconciliation.”

We are saved to allow Christ to live out His life in us and through us that our lives can bring glory to Him.  He will do it through us, and we will know joy in God.  That seems like a life worth living.

I have known loss in my life, and suffered with a feeling of deep profound grief that the Lord walked me through.  I was on the verge of depression, but kept looking into the face of the Savior for help.  If I can be of help to you in this, please feel free to contact me through this email:

cajr@ptd.net