Thursday, January 5, 2017

SUFFERING

I write a lot about suffering.

Because I suffer.  

We all do.

And I want to understand it.

I know, because He has taught me, that our suffering here on earth is working out a heavenly blessing that we will receive one day in eternity.  In fact, 2 Corinthians promises: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”  Our suffering, then, that often feels so heavy, is, on God’s grand scale, accurately weighed, accounted for, eternally weighted -- worth something.  

Our suffering is never in vain.

And when I recount His promises, I remember Paul’s words -that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  
Much: a lot of, a great/good deal of, a great/large amount of, plenty of, ample, copious, abundant, plentiful, considerable.
Tribulation: suffering, distress, trouble, misery, wretchedness, unhappiness, sadness, heartache, woe, grief, sorrow, pain, anguish, agony; travail.

And I know these words are truth, yet how do I embrace them? How do I long for that which brings Him glory if the glory comes from suffering? How do I press on? How do I keep my eyes on things that are yet unseen and keep them off things that I can so clearly see? (2 Corinthians 4:18).

How do I realize the temporal nature of pain and the eternal nature of glory? How do I live for the sake of the gospel?
I have to be Still to know Him.  Be Still Before Him. I have to pray that His Holy Spirit working within me changes my selfish desires, exchanges my selfishness for sacrifice.  And I ask myself, “What I am willing to give up for Him? What am I willing to endure?”

And I read Paul’s words to the church of Colosse: “[I] rejoice in sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

Oh, how Paul suffered for Christ’s church.  His tribulations “fill[ing] up that which was behind of the affliction of Christ” -how in the suffering of his flesh, he became Christ-like.  How in the suffering of his flesh, he carried His cross, faithful to death, for the sake of the church, rejoicing in his pain. And I’m reminded that “a Christian may be said to fill up that which remains of the sufferings of Christ, when … he bears patiently the afflictions God allots to him.”

And I pray for patience (the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset) to bear (sustain, carry, support, shoulder, absorb, take on) the afflictions (suffering, distress, pain, trouble, misery, wretchedness, hardship, misfortune, adversity, sorrow, torment, tribulation, woe) God allots (allocate to, assign to, apportion to, distribute to, issue to, grant to; earmark for, designate for, set aside for;) to me.