Sunday, May 29, 2011

Christians Suffer for a Reason

For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
Phillipians 1:29 NKJV

There is a prevalent school of thought in the world today which maintains that Christians are supposedly immune to suffering because God intends for us to receive blessings rather than hardships. The truth of the matter is, suffering is something we are not only warned to expect but also are told is a means to glorify God and further His kingdom.

The word translated “granted” in this verse carries the meaning of actually doing someone a favor, or being gracious. How often have you suffered and thanked God for being “gracious” enough to allow you to experience that suffering? In the past week and a half we have seen unprecedented suffering throughout the Midwest and south as the result of a series of natural disasters which only seem to be getting worse rather than getting better. As expected, many are asking the question why is God allowing His people to suffer troubles of this magnitude?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy [to be compared] with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18 NKJV

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding [and] eternal weight of glory,
2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV

We have seen the pictures and heard the stories of the devastation, but I wonder if you have heard some of the testimonies of God's deliverance which have also occurred? Time and again I have read or heard of people who have lost everything yet speak out to glorify God and to thank Him for an act of deliverance, or grace experienced in spite of what has happened to them. At a time where the world might expect someone to be angry or bitter, we find believers giving glory to God for His unspeakable grace.

The apostle Paul was intimately acquainted with suffering, and almost always links the sufferings we endure now with the future glory which will someday be revealed. A reoccurring theme in Paul's writings on this subject is that no matter what the magnitude of the suffering we experience in this life, it cannot compare with the glory which is yet to come. In other words, while we tend to focus on the now, Paul tells us we need to focus on the future and the time when all our sufferings will not only be over, but also explained and justified so we may see just how God was able to use them for His glory.

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12 NKJV

The most commonly asked question when experiencing suffering is why? We seem to feel that we deserve an answer to our question because as we see it, our suffering is undeserved. Yet Paul seems to make it clear that the answers we seek will not be given until we arrive at our heavenly destination. For now we have the promises that God is just, and what we have to endure while here is going to be used for His purpose and glory. But to know exactly how God will use them is something we must wait to find out.

In the past ten days many have shared the opinion that what is now occurring is God's judgment on America for it's treatment of Israel, and the policies of our government that indicate a desire to force Israel to give up part of it's land. I must admit that it would not surprise me at all if this proves to be the case for as we all know, the land where Israel lies was given to them by God as an eternal possession according to His covenant with them. The Bible clearly states what will happen to those who desire to meddle. We know as well that the time is fast approaching where Israel's enemies will feel their only recourse is to attack and attempt to destroy the nation of Israel. Imagine their surprise when, according to the scriptures, God Himself takes a hand and defends His people by destroying the attacking armies.

Very very soon, we will have an answer to the prayer taught by Jesus when He said,

Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as [it is] in heaven.
Matthew 6:10 NKJV

Keep watching.