Monday, January 28, 2019

"The Gift of Suffering"

The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…

"The Gift of Suffering"

     It does not seem like it.  It does not look like it.  It most certainly does not feel like it.  However, the Apostle Paul affirmed suffering as a gift given to born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

   "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29).

   From our eternal vantage point in Heaven, we will realize that the pains of our earthly lives were no less the blessing of God than our pleasures.  Again, this is not to minimize our challenges.  Pain is pain.  Loss is loss.  Grief is grief.  Heartache is heartache, and broken hearts feel the keen shattering of hopes and dreams regardless of how faithfully we walk with our Lord.  Moreover, our Heavenly Father is "full of compassion" and "doth not afflict willingly" the challenges He allows and sometimes directly administers (Psalm 86:15; Lamentations 3:33).  Nevertheless, we must at times hurt, lose, grieve, ache, and feel brokenness of heart if we are to well know our Lord and His working in our lives.  Only thereby can our Heavenly Father fulfill His purpose of conforming us to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:28-29).

    "Before I was afflicted, I went astray.  But now I have kept Thy Word" (Psalm 119:67).

   Scripture offers many reasons for the necessity of suffering.  Space in this essay does not allow for a consideration of those reasons.  For now, let us simply propose that the challenges of this life are not wasted, nor will their significance for eternity fail to be accomplished.  Something Divine always graces our difficulties, regardless of their nature, degree, or measure.  The God affirmed by Scripture as "a very present help in trouble" does not accompany us as a mere observer of our difficulties.  God is always doing something, always accomplishing purposes, always effecting change, and always using our challenges to enable growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  Always.  "I will be with thee" proclaims the promise regarding every challenge of life (Isaiah 43:2).  Yes, when "it is given… to suffer for His sake," a greater Gift comes with the challenge.  Our "very present" Lord accompanies the pain, the loss, the grief, the heartache, the heartbreak.  As we trust Him, we find Him in ways that pleasure cannot offer.  We will better understand this from our future Heavenly vantage point, but even now in the earthly challenges that may seem so very dark, let open our eyes to behold the Gift that always comes with suffering.

"The Light shineth in darkness."
(John 1:5)
"They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
(Acts 5:41)

Weekly Memory Verse
     Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight, but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do."
(Hebrews 4:13)

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