Col 1:11-12 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
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In this weeks Freedom in Christ, I want to dispel the myth that suffering in the life of a believer is the punishment or wrath of God. Whenever a person goes through a difficult time there is always someone sitting along the roadside to point out that the cause of this difficulty must be sin. "God is punishing you for something," they will say. When a small child gets cancer, another earthquake occurs around the world, or one of us simply loses a job or finds themselves in financial hard times, it is not the wrath of God in our lives.
Absolutely nothing could be further from the truth that suffering is punishment, and here is why. Jesus came into the world to take the punishment from sin and death for us. God's wrath was poured out on Him on the cross for all of mankind. He is our propitiation.
The first three chapters of Romans spell out quite clearly that we are all deserving of the wrath of God. Jew and gentile alike are condemned due to our corruption, our sin, and our disobedience. But there is good news... in spite of us falling short of the glory of God, Jesus became the recipient of our punishment (Rom 3:23-25). We will all struggle, we will all have hard times, and we will all die. It is just the facts!
Suffering doesn't serve the wrath of God, but it does serve a purpose of God.
Rom 5:3 tells us that we rejoice in our sufferings and our sufferings produce endurance, our endurance produces character, and our character produces hope. What good is it in our life if we are immune to difficulties? If we are a witness to God almighty and His glorious work, and we live like our neighbor who has rejected God and lives for himself, then where is the hope. If God only gives us nice things, and our neighbor has nice things already, then he can take the credit as we give the credit to God.
But what happens when we rejoice in our sufferings? What happens when an ungodly world sees Christians having hope in the midst of difficulty and trials. What happens when we are giving praise to God when our teenager dies 70 years early, or our house gets foreclosed on, or we are diagnosed with a brain tumor? What happens is that those people around us who have never understood the grace of God begin to see it. They see our hope. They see our character. They see Jesus.
Daily In Christ - Freedom In Christ
Today I encourage you to mentally and spiritually prepare for trials and suffering. If you have not seen much difficulty in your life then praise God. There is a season for everything in this life and one day we will all experience difficulties. If we prepare our hearts and get the right perspective then the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will be able to dwell in our hearts.
If you are experiencing difficulties, in addition to turning your pain over to Jesus, I encourage you to join the World Wide Prayer Network. (If you are a facebook user) This is a place to share your prayer requests and pray for others.
Blessings to you as you give Him praise in all circumstances.
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