So…things seem a little TOUGH, do they? Suffering and pain are, clearly, NOT an indication of spiritual weakness; rather, Suffering is a GIFT entrusted to us by God, which purpose is to sharpen our focus. Many of our great preachers, theologians, and other spiritual leaders have experienced acute spiritual suffering. Suffering and pain are not unique to our more “worldly leaders,” i.e. Reagan for one; and JFK for another.
Philippians 1:29 “For unto you it is given… not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for his sake.” 1 Peter 2-21 – “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example.” 1 Peter 5:10 “But the God of all Grace, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.” And, in John 16:33, Jesus says – “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
All of this is meant to say: If you, your business, and your career…are suffering… then remember that God has a plan, as told to us in … Jeremiah 29:11– For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
God will “allow” us to suffer for a while…then, He will make you perfect. Remember we are made in His Image. He tells us through Romans 8:28 – 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.
Remember when Peter and the Apostles were out fishing, and Jesus was walking, on water, towards them…and He said to Peter… to come to Him. Peter got out of the boat, and when he felt the force of the wind and rain on him, he began to “sink” into the water. Jesus asked him…”where is your faith?”
We MUST endure hardships, so that we will “learn” how to die for Jesus. Life’s hardships are preparing mankind for the “big test.” We must be willing to die for Jesus. We casually read of first century Christians who suffered persecution. Stephen was stoned to death. James was slain by the sword. Both Peter and Paul were imprisoned. Secular history records the terrible atrocities committed against Christians by the Roman authorities. Christians were tortured, mutilated, and maimed. Believers were burned at the stake, thrown to the lions, and crucified… just as Christ was crucified.
Jesus plainly told the disciples in Matthew 16:25-26 – “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
In America we enjoy the freedom of worship. We assemble each Sunday in our respective churches, free from fear of intrusion, attack, or deadly assault. We can openly express, follow, and share our faith. However, with the recent beheadings, and mass murder of Christians, we no-longer have the guarantee that Christians, or any American, in general, will continue to enjoy this privilege, and freedom…in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”
God Bless America…blessings to each of you….cjlb…..9/28/15.