3rd OCTOBER 2019“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
Today we continue our discussion on the importance of suffering in our lives. I want to start off by observing that Jesus” teachings about the blessings of God were radically different from those of the Jewish leaders of His time, not because God has changed His plan for man, but due to the Jews” misconceptions concerning God’s promised blessings. The Jews believe more in temporal blessings only – in the now! While Jesus believes in both eternal blessings which will take place in heaven and the ones which will take place NOW. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus placed a lot of blessings on the poor, those who mourn, those who are persecuted, etc. Though the poor have no wealth on earth, Jesus believes a great deal awaits them in heaven. But the religious leaders do not believe in this sort of teaching, and so they despised Jesus. To those who equated wealth and comfort with piety and the blessings of God, the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) was shocking and disturbing. The rich man spent eternity in hell while Lazarus spent eternity enjoying the blessings God promised in Abraham. Jesus knows that suffering is necessary in order to win the crown. Therefore, He did not hesitate to drink from the cup of life. Jesus’ teaching concerning His own suffering and death took His disciples by surprise: How could it be that the blessed Son of God could suffer? Peter rejected the thought. But Peter was wrong for supposing that God’s blessings were incompatible with suffering, how would Jesus have died for us? Our Lord’s suffering and sacrificial death therefore, was God’s means of blessing us. It is in Christ, the “seed” of Abraham, that we are blessed. It is by “blessing” Him that we enjoy God’s blessings, rather than the curse of sin. The Bible says Christ is the source of all our blessings; indeed, He is the blessing: (Ephesians 1:3-14). God did not only accomplish our salvation by means of Christ’s suffering, but He uses suffering to draw men to Himself (Luke 6:20-23). Suffering is also a blessing because it is a part of God’s process of sanctification. Through suffering we are blessed in many ways: For instance, the scripture says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5). Suffering is not a pleasant experience, but as children of God, we are given power to overcome when we now loathe that which we once loved. Today’s word goes to explain that, in this physical world, blessings and suffering are mixed. It is only in heaven that they are separated. That we won’t encounter suffering in this world is not correct. The path to fulfillment is lined with tests and trials. To step into the fulfillment of the promises of God, you must adopt a change of attitude to suffering. When affliction comes into our life, we must pray for God’s grace, wisdom, patience, or endurance. We should ask God to give us the mind of Christ or the ministry of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome. The mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the grace and power to overcome during the moments of trial. We must, therefore, hold onto the Master during these crucial trying moments. Whether God in His goodness enables us to succeed, or whether His grace enables us to endure our suffering, let us realize that God can make use of suffering to produce blessings.
Father in the name of Jesus Christ, I thank you for my travails, my hopes, faith, and endurance; I am richly blessed for you have made me strong when evil thrives. By thy Spirit, victory is mine! AMEN
FURTHER READING: Hebrews 12:3-13