Monday, October 22, 2012

Endure Hardships


     “Take… your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first class) soldier of Christ Jesus.  …

     “Constantly keep in mind Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] risen from the dead, [as the prophesied king] descended from David, according to the good news (the Gospel) that I preach.

     “For that [Gospel] I am suffering affliction and even wearing chains like a criminal.  But the Word of God is not chained or imprisoned!

     “Therefore I am ready to persevere and stand my ground with patience and endure everything for the sake of the elect [God’s chosen], so that they too may obtain [the] salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with [the reward of] eternal glory.  …

     “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.  …

     “Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand].  …

     “But as for you, continue to hold to the things you have learned and of which you are convinced…

     “Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by his inspiration)…  for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action),

     “So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.  …

     “As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry.”
                              (selected from II Tim. Ch 2 & 3, the Amplified Bible)


We in the “Western church” have doubtless heard countless sermons on doing the good work that Christ has called us to do.  And, that “if He calls you, he will equip you.”  And that walking with Jesus Christ should be a great adventure!  Lately, we hear from just about everywhere that we are to pursue our God-sized dreams (which are often glamorous or called to the public’s attention.)

However, in my experience, at least, there have been very few calls to “suffer unflinchingly every hardship.”  We may hear stories of foreign missionaries who are persecuted, or about the “persecuted church” (Christians in countries where just admitting to the name of Jesus Christ can bring reprisal).  But then so many of us act like we aren’t ever supposed to suffer over-much.  We go on blythly pursuing consumerism, or looking to celebrities, or working for a “pet “cause”, or just getting by in daily life.  And then in hard times, our first cry is apt to be “Why are you doing this to me, God?”  Or, “Life just isn’t fair!”

Doesn’t it seem as if we’ve done a great disservice, if any of us have told people they should be Christians because life will be so great?  It’s true that He will give us peace and joy and rest!  But it’s not the sort of peace, joy, and rest in the way the outside world defines it.   Truly, God’s ways are not our ways.  We just want out of our pain, sorrow, difficult circumstances.  And then he confounds us by saying that not only will we reign with him only if we suffer with him, but that to be well fitted for his service, we must “endure”, and “suffer unflinchingly every hardship.”

I haven’t faced the sort of persecution for my faith that is common in some countries.  But I have encountered disease, loss of job and self-respect and loved ones, money woes, dissatisfactions and disappointments. Oh, how my losses hurt!  How afraid I become!  I don’t like being in a place of suffering.  I may forget God values me, only feeling I’ve been deprived of my rightful place in God’s kingdom.  Yet, the truth is that God may be allowing hardships as a very training ground for a fuller, more God-centered life in his presence. 

But how shall I manage to endure to the end?  How shall I face my days unflinchingly?  Only by the grace and mercy of God himself.  He has fashioned and made me.  When he puts me in a place of long-suffering, there are lessons for me to learn.  Fortunately, he has promised to always hold my hand.  And to be my guide and ever-present Lord.

This post is shared with "Seedlings in Stone"  and "Playdates with God"

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1 comment:

  1. Yes, scripture tells us we WILL face troubles. I'm sorry for yours, M. You bear them with so much grace. Here in the US our sufferings are relative, aren't they? But the Lordcares about every detail. And even in the smallest disappointments--as you say--I have felt Him pull me closer. Such a comfort is His great love.

    And I just want to make sure I haven't lost an email from you, my friend! (It wouldn't be the first time). I still want to send you your prize:). Message me when you can. Love to you.


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