Suffering; What Am I Going To Do About It?
We have an example of Christ's suffering in 1 Peter 2:21 "... since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps. He committed no sin nor was any deceit found in His mouth. And while being reviled, He did not revile in return, while suffering, He uttered no threats but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sins and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."
What do we see Jesus doing here:
1. He suffered.
2. He suffered wrongly. (wasn't His sin)
3. He sinned not... before punishment, during or after.
4. He was willing to "hurt, suffer" so that we might not have to face the final death.
5. He entrusted Himself to God.
When faced with suffering, we have the choice to:
1. Rail against the suffering. By saying, Why me? I don't deserve this. Complain very loudly.
2. Use the suffering to God's Glory. Entrust myself to God.
3. Look for the good... the treasure- the Joy.
II Corinthians 1:3 "Blessed be the God & Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all our comforts who comforts us in all our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
When this passage was pointed out to me I wanted to say, "Well, just wait a minute. Let's just stop this domino action. Get me out of line. God won't need those kind of comforters if there was nothing to be comforted about."
But it is a sinful world and sin caused that chain of death. WE do need comforters. And my husband and I have been able to share the comfort we received. Too often we don't want God to teach us how to deal with a situation. We just want God to get us out of the situation.
Paul made a list of his sufferings. II Corinthians 11:23 "... with greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys , in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from the Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst , often without food, in cold and exposure."
Why did Paul give us a list? One reason could be for us to have an example of one who endured and was comforted. He says it was the power of Christ who enabled him to endure and that he endured all this with Joy. His whole life from the events on the Road to Damascus was lived for Christ. So his sufferings were not wasted. They were dedicated to God also.
Jesus certainly used an illustration we women can identify with in John 16:20 "... your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she is delivered of the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you."
I told you we had 4 children. My memory must have not been good. I didn't remember how bad it was. Doesn't that say something about it all being worth while, worth some treasure? I even encouraged my daughter to go thru the birthing process and we have 2 precious grandchildren.
It comes down to attitude.
I will live for God in good times and bad. My Lord is aware of all my conditions and I will give over to Him my successes and my joys. I also give over to Him the bad things that I am so bold as to call suffering. It is all His, as I am. Every single thing I do is being done for God. My life is dedicated to Him. Even the sufferings. I am not going to waste anything.