I know many many people who are suffering right now. Many of my friends, my online buddies, my readers, and my own family members. So, it was quite fitting that a guest pastor preached on the verse above on Sunday. I think many of us (including myself who have been down with the flu for a week now) have trouble feeling the "love" the joy in the middle of our trials. Often times we cry out to God. "Why? Why me? What are you doing? I thought you loved me!"
Then well-meaning Christians come along with the verse above or other truthful Scriptures which say that God will work it all out for our good and we must trust Him. All of that is true!! But, honestly, who wants to hear that when you're suffering? If I had met James (the author of the Scripture above) during one of the hardest times in my life and he said that to me, I might have punched him in the face. :-) I'm being honest. Hey, I didn't ask for my faith to be tested! I didn't ask for patience!
No, but the problem is that when you signed up to follow Jesus, you gave your life away. You are no longer your own, but God's, and your chief purpose here on earth now is to bring God glory! Wait, I didn't know that, you might say. I became a Christian so I could go to heaven. Nobody mentioned this suffering stuff, this losing my life stuff.
“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.
He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
In our westernized self-centered gospel, we tend to overlook those verses, but Jesus very plainly said to count the cost of following Him, because it would cost you.
And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him Luke 14
Man, what a cheerful post! Well, let me end on a very encouraging note, some great Scriptures for Overcomers. Who are overcomers? Those followers of Jesus who don't give up, who persevere, who stand fast in the faith. Here's what God promises (all found in Revelation)
- I will grant you to eat from the tree of life
- I will give you the crown of life
- He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death
- To he who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations
- He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blog out his name from the Book of Life
- Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world
- To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no on knows except him who receives it
- He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God
- To him who overcomes, I will grant to sit with Me on My throne
I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me!
So, if you're going through a tough time, count it joy that you are privileged to suffer as Jesus also suffered when He was here on earth, and allow God to work His will in your life. Because let's face it, we are all here for a very short time, and we have no idea the joys, the wonders, the peace and life and love and majesty that awaits us in the next life.