Tag Archives: suffering

Christian=Spared From Troubles?

Did you ever think being a Christian would make your life…easier? I think a lot of Christians are in that boat. We think (even subconciously) that knowing Jesus and the truth about salvation will make this earthly life a breeze. It is true that knowing our Savior and the waves of grace makes life manageable, and even joyful. Yet an easy life is not a promise in the Bible…Far from it, in fact!

Recently I faced a situation that I never, ever anticipated would happen to me. I

kyle-broad-29486.jpg
Photo by Kyle Broad on Unsplash

thought I was wiser. I thought that my knowledge and education would keep me from that situation. If I’m completely honest, there was even a part of me that thought Christ would spare me from that type of situation. Yet…Christ never promised our life on earth would be easy. Never. Recently, I discovered that Matthew 11:30 (“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”) is not translated well. Instead of “easy,” the word from Greek is better translated as “suitable,” “well fitting,” or “useful.” The crosses we have are well-fitted to us, and useful for the particular growth we need as individuals. As much as we protest our crosses, they are fitted to our shoulders, not someone else’s. Christ gives us many forms of grace to endure whatever it is we face. 

Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune from the troubles of this world. Countless Christians have done the “right things” and still faced martyrdom, spousal abuse, bankruptcy, natural disasters, chronic illness, and any other struggle you can name. We are in the world, though we are not of it. The advantage we have as Christians is knowing Who helps us carry our burdens. We are never left to our own devices, but in every moment we are completely loved and upheld. We know that the suffering here is not the end, but there is a life of eternal joy that awaits us one day. Our suffering is not without meaning. Remember what came after the crucifixion? We can look forward to the same, whether on the horizon of our earthly lives or in Heaven.

“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10:36

“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:18

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

will-van-wingerden-87463.jpg
Photo by Will van Wingerden on Unsplash

 

Advertisements

The Word on Wednesday-Seasons.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
     a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
     a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
     a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
     a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

We grasp at the seasons we consider good. The being born seasons, the planting seasons where we joyfully await the fruit of our labor. The building and healing seasons, and the laughing and dancing seasons. Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything, a season for everything under the heavens. All of the seasons are necessary. Without the different seasons, we would not grow. We would not learn to rely on our Heavenly Father if the seasons were all easy.

I know that many believers, and the world in general, are enduring the difficult seasons: uprooting seasons, seasons where there is emptiness and mourning. There is even threat of killing and war. In these circumstances, we learn to lean on the Lord and His steady faithfulness. We learn to better love our neighbor. We learn to await His promises, and the joyous seasons. Embrace your season. This earthly life is temporary. Seasons don’t last forever, but the enduring love of our Father does. 

jordan-mcqueen-14250.jpg
Photo by Jordan McQueen on Unsplash

Pondering Strength.

Strength isn’t built overnight. It comes through weathering stormy seasons and emerging after you didn’t think it was possible. It is like building muscle. You can’t build muscle unless you are consistently working out and even gradually moving up to more difficult workouts or higher weights. You build strength by weathering small and large storms. I think a person can be born with a tendency for strength, but they must undergo some difficulty for that strength to be tested and built up.

There are not-so-distant seasons of my life where I look back and wonder “how did I do that?” Was that really me who lived through those things and made those hard decisions that didn’t make sense to others? Where I am now, I wonder, too. How am I living through this crazy season where nothing has stayed the same?  The answer: grace. The grace of God was sufficient for that time. Grace is sufficient for today, too.

In whatever you are facing, His grace will be sufficient for you. I can’t promise you that it will be easy. But I can promise God is faithful. He tests us for our good. He loves us way too much for us to stay the same. Where we encounter difficulty, we can also cling to His grace and supernatural strength. 

There will be a day when you look back and wonder how you made it. And you will make it. Take your Heavenly Father’s hand and discover the depths of His love as you go through the depths of difficulty. Discover who you really are. Let the storm transform you into a pillar of strength.  

“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.”~1 Peter 1:6-7

tommy-lisbin-284351.jpg
Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash

 

Carrying Heavy Crosses.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.”~Matthew 16:24

A new year seems to signal hope for many people. Yet many are struggling with heavy crosses, wondering when the joy in a new year will come. One family lost a baby. Others are struggling with cancer diagnoses. Marriages are shaky and fighting to make it. I myself felt like January just wanted to knock me down, as trial after trial came my way.

Jesus warned us that we would have crosses. He never promised we would have it easy. In fact, He told us just the opposite. “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)winter cross

We must learn to lean on Jesus as we struggle with the weight of heavy crosses. Our crosses unite us closer with our Lord. Yet, do you recall that even Jesus had help in carrying His cross? Simon the Cyrenian assisted at a time when Jesus continually fell and could no longer bear the weight alone. This shows us that we are not meant to carry our crosses alone. We need community to strengthen us when we feel powerless.

As that cross bears into your shoulders, know that He is walking alongside you. He’s helping to carry the weight so that you won’t fall. Yet there are people from the Body of Christ placed in your life to help you also. (If you don’t know who they are, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal them to you.) It is good to ask for prayer, for help when needed. There is no shame. Let others use their gifts. And as you see others struggling with their crosses, help them. Pray, but also take action and do what you can.

Keep walking, dear disciple. One foot in front  of the other. Your resurrection will come.

The Light of Faith, and Reality of Suffering

“Faith is not a light that scatters all our darkness, but a lamp that guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments that explain everything; rather, God’s response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness that touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light. In Christ, God wishes to share this path with us and to offer us his gaze so that we might see the light within it. Christ is the one who, having endured suffering, is “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2).~Pope Francis, “Lumen Fidei”

We wish that having faith meant living in a land of sunshine and rainbows. It’s true, that God does bring joy and peace. The fact is, though, life isn’t perfect. Even though we have God at our side always, there is most definitely suffering. Yet He journeys with us through the suffering, and allows us to grow stronger through the storm. He holds our hand and keeps us moving through the blinding rain. Our faith guides our steps in the “nights” of our lives. It doesn’t mean there will be no nights. God is with us in our “story of suffering.” He brings a brighter chapter after that suffering–and He invites you and your faith to be strengthened through the agony. His Son, who endured the greatest suffering of all, perfects our faith.

We can’t understand suffering. Living Christian lives doesn’t give us the answer to “why?” But we can take hold of faith, the light that scatters the darkness. We can walk ahead, step by step, always holding the lamp of faith. That faith, and the hope that accompanies it, will give us the glimmer to journey through even the darkest of nights. It will bring us to daybreak, where we’ll behold His face, and one blessed day be able to understand and rejoice always.

darkness
courtesy of unsplash.com