Monday, May 4, 2020

Suffering..What's It For?

       What does suffering mean to you?  Is suffering a form of your loss, pain, hurt or denial of something?  As we go through this COVD-19 pandemic, some of us may see it as a source of suffering.  The verse about denying ourselves and taking up our cross to follow Jesus through this storm is very relevant now.  Luke 9:2325 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?"   
      The quarantine lockdown life has magnified some truths in my own life.  Galatians 2:20  "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  "We die to our own way of doing things. We consider our will, our rights, our passions, and our goals to be crucified on the cross with Him. Our right to direct our own lives is dead to us."   Just as the government is guiding us to a safer, new normal,so has Christ called us to follow His lead to a better life now and for eternity.
       "Paul suffered more than most for Jesus’ sake. He said this to the Christians at Phillipi: "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him" (Philippians 1:29). The word granted here means "shown favor, given freely as a gift." Paul does not present suffering as a curse, but as a benefit.   Suffering in some form is always going to be a part of being a true follower of Christ. Jesus said the path that leads to life is difficult (Matthew 7:14). Our hardship is also a way of identifying with His suffering in a small way." []
       As for myself, my greatest suffering comes from within as I battle for control over a heart that must die to my own will and surrender to Christ’s lordship.  Romans 7:15-25 says it clearly, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.  Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good.  So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.  Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."
         As you may be longing for the pre-quarantine days, I hope this time of rest, boundaries, fear, and loneliness has taught you some new things and brought you closer in your walk with God.  As much as I feel like I am suffering more now in my older years and I am jealous for my independent years of youth, this time of dependency on others and Jesus has taught me so much.  Thankfully, our timeline is not ours to define because God is so very patient to teach us what we need to know about Him and his ways.  "He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
        We all have some assumptions about suffering, so I want to share 4 of them from Nancy Guthrie's bibe study session on Job in "Wisdom of God" and the rebuttal to each:

1] If I am godly, I won't have to suffer
We cant say if were good enough we wont suffer, Jesus did--who was sinless and perfect.

2]My suffering is about me and the here and now
God intends your suffering to be a magnificent demonstration of his glory.
Job's suffering was meant to develop trust in the God he loves

3] Our suffering is the result of God punishing us for our sin
Never, all the punishment you deserve was taken by Jesus
Suffering's endurance comes by knowing its purposeful, never random and out of love
It makes you fruitful

4] What I need most from God is relief from my suffering and answers to my question
He's the creator and I'm the creation that he can do whatever with
See gods glory at center of everything
Thank God for all we've been given and not deserved
In a fair world, There'd be no room for grace n mercy

May you always consider, however you are suffering, as being counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name of Jesus Christ