Acts 9:16 – “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Romans 5:1-6 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
James 1:2-4- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
1 Peter 1:6-9- In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
“Rejoice in my suffering God? Are you crazy?”
What about when that relationship I’ve tried so hard to build, that I’ve prayed so hard for. It’s taken and it’s crushed. It’s torn to pieces and I have to start from scratch.
What about when I’m lonely? When I feel like no one understands what I’m going through, when what I really want is a friend. A friend I can call when I’m having a bad day, a friend who will make me laugh and encourage me.
What about when I think I finally found that friend and that’s taken from me too?
What about when my doctor calls me and gives me news I don’t want to hear. News that could possibly affect eveything I know you’ve called me to do? What then God?
What about when I feel like I am fighting so hard to follow you. I am doing every single thing that you have asked of me. You are my top priority. Yet, the more I fight to be who you’ve called me to be the more it seems that my world is slowly crashing around me. What is that about God?
In my pain and in my crying, in my hurt and grief. As I sat on my porch yelling out to Him. He answered and said “My daughter. I see you and I am with you. When you have done all you can do to stand. Stand firm in the truth you know.” Which then reminded me of the verses in the Bible about putting on the full armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-20) It basically says when you have done everything you know to do and you’ve done all you can do to stand. Stand firm in your armor. Keep following the truth you know and keep your armor on at ALL times. Never let it get rusty.
I felt better. But I still wasn’t ok. I woke up this morning and God said “You need to go to big church today.” Some things happened and the devil tried to convince me I didn’t need to go. “The sermon is on salvation, you know that stuff.” “They really need you in children’s church today.” “You can’t stand up for yourself. You wont ask if it’s ok to leave and go over.” All to which I replied, “Shut up devil. God told me that’s where I need to go and by golly I’m going.”
I walked in crying, uncertain of what I needed to hear. I am saved. I have a relationship with God. I’m fighting for it! I’m already obeying Him. That’s why I’m in here! But, I’m also broken and worn and I know God’s got something for me.
As I sat there listening, God began to speak. The message was on suffering for the Lord and that salvation is more than just saying you’re a Christian. It’s about denying yourself and acepting that there will be hard times and suffering. But, when you surrender your whole self to God, He’s got it. God had already been telling me that, and I believed it. But the sermon was the nail that drove that truth into my heart. We should rejoice in our suffering. Because as it says in Romans 5 “because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” The suffering I am going through now is producing perseverance in me. Perseverance to push through and trust God! That perseverance is building my character, who I am as a person. What defines me and how I handle things. And character brings hope. Hope is what I can have in my next trial because I know I can get through it!
How do I know I can get through it? Because looking back on my life, I can see where God has brought me through things before. One thing Pastor John said this morning is “You need to get so lost in God that you can’t see yourself anymore.” That really struck home for me because I’ve been saying for the last couple weeks, “I’m going through things right now that I have dealt with in the past except this time I’m going through it as a changed person.” I’m no longer who I used to be. I used to be someone who burried their hurt and pain. Who tried to fight it on their own. But now I’m completely emerged in Christ. I don’t recognize the person I once was. I can go through this battle in confidence and with pure joy because I know that with God, I AM going to overcome it.
Before church eneded our pastor said the words, ” I wish this could be a sermon where I could lay hands on you and pray for you. A sermon to encourage you! But I felt like I needed to share the full gopsel and it’s not all fun and easy.” For me though, this sermon was the exact encouragement I needed. Yeah, suffering stinks and it’s not fun! But I do consider it a pure honor to be able to suffer for Jesus! I find joy in that what I’m going through can bring Him glory and He’s gonna get me through it because He’s never failed me before.
So are you willing to suffer for Jesus? Or are you going to run from it? Try and hide from life and go your own way? I assure you although the latter option sounds better at first. Fighting for God and the truth is always worth so much more in the end.