“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, June 01, 2009

Suffering - Part II

To continue my thoughts from the last post -- we saw that suffering may be a direct result of sinful actions or decisions, yet, at other times, we cannot discern the reason behind our suffering. Sometimes we suffer in order to be tempered and refined, drawing out the dross in our lives, and causing our faith to gleam like pure gold.

1st Peter 1:3 – 7 -- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

In previous posts we have also looked at the secret and revealed will of God and how this should affect our understanding of suffering. Now I would like to close out this post by explaining why we can take comfort, even in the midst of suffering, in an all-knowing, all-caring, all-wise God and Father.

There are many Christians who are suffering, and many of them struggle with the 'why' of their suffering. As I have posted previously, there are several answers to the questions – why? Sometimes the answer is “I do not know”.

However, I would like to close out this post by telling you what I do know.

This world is full of trials and tribulations; yes, we suffer, get sick, grow old(er) and eventually die. And if the Lord tarries, there is not a person reading this who will not suffer these things; but having said that, there is something far greater that awaits the redeemed. I will post on this in more detail soon, but, I want to touch on it in the closing portion of this post.

The redeemed have a blessed hope! This hope carries them through the trials and tribulations of this life, and has carried several millenia of Saints through persecution, privation, and punishment.

I may not understand why you suffer, or why I am struck with a malady, but I do know one thing that is more comforting than a thousand great doctor reports, and it is this fact; God loves us and sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins. And while the physical affects of sin still work themselves out in mankind, those who are found in Jesus Christ have no longer to fear death and the grave, for these have been defeated – we have a home in heaven, prepared by our loving God, for His beloved children!

My dear friends, we WILL suffer while on this earth – of that we can be sure. There are many places that speak of that in the revealed word of God.

But listen to Paul as he wrote to the Roman church in Romans 8:19 – 21 -- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Paul says – “Hey, I know suffering – I live it every day. But, I do not consider my temporal suffering worth comparing to the reality of what awaits me in glory!” Paul had an eternal perspective – recognizing that suffering is a part of the fallen world, he nonetheless, turned his eyes towards the reality of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross, and what that had bought for him. Paul suffered much in this life, but it was nothing compared to the life He lives, even now, in Jesus Christ!

John tells us in Revelation 21:1 – 4 -- Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

My friends, take heart, our Savior is nigh – He is coming – with His angels to take us unto Himself, that where He is, we might be also. And when that happens, there will be no more suffering, no more pain, no more death – all we can say is response is maranatha – Lord, come quickly!

If you are suffering, may I say to you that you can rest in the Lord? Trust Him in all your ways and He will make all your paths straight, never leaving nor forsaking you. Regardless of your suffering, our Father in heaven watches over you and will sustain you until He calls you home.

You do not have to take my word for it. Open God’s Holy Word and read of His love and care for His children. Read of His breathtaking promises to an undeserving people – He will be there God and dwell amongst them for all eternity. Take heart my friend, suffering is for a little while, but joy comes in the morning!

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