Suffering With Joy
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ,
not only to believe in Him,
but also to suffer for His sake.
Its tough sometimes to accept that promise in the bible that your faith will be tested--and that we should endure and perservere with joy; rejoice even when we are suffering. Take heed of that promise, you will be blessed. And so I share with you a letter I wrote to a dear friend of mine to encourage her when she was enduring some suffering, because I have hope that other people may be encouraged by it as well.
January 29, 2006
I thought I'd share with you what I'd written in my journal last night as I was going through allergy attack last night myself (did I mention that?!?!) and what God was showing me. Maybe there's something in there that would be encouraging to you too... who knows? (well, except God) :)
"Its so unfair" I whine and fret inwardly over and over, completely disregarding the command the bible lays out in Phillipians 2:14 to do everything without complaining. "How can something that is soo small that it can't even be seen by the naked eye cause me to suffer so?" And "why me?" (can you hear the high-schooler mantra just waiting to whine its way through "but Mom, everyoooone else gets to..."
But God didn't make us all to be alike did he? Each of us a unique special creation of God...for a one-of-a-kind purpose. I can (and have) prayed over and over that God would "heal" me of allergic "fun", forgetting of course the whole part about IF it would be God's will...selectively picking verses to show myself why the Lord ought (imagine that...me telling the Lord what he ought do??? Hello Isaiah 45:9...("Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, 'What are you making?'").
Drat, convicted once again. But also convicted that I should be following in the footsteps of the apostle Paul, who even being beaten in prison wrote to us about suffering with joy...for no suffering for the Lord is wasted. And if the Lord desireth not to rid me of my afflictions, I can rest in the assurance that it is for the glory of God. "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil 1:29). Instead of complaining bitterly and having a heart full of garbage, it could be a heart full of hope and joy that the Lord is calling me to suffer so that I may encourage other people through my own suffering--so that I may take some time to praise him for all the times I don't have to endure what's uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Some of the other verses on the joy/suffering: Romans 5:3, James 5:10, Revelation 2:10, Revelation 10:10, Revelation 2:9-10, Phil 1:27,29, 1 Peter 3:14,2:21, Romans 8:18,23-25, 1 Peter 4:12-19 :)