Monday, June 27, 2011

Sufferolgy - Suffering Saints

The Book of Genesis has 50 chapters. The life of Joseph, son of Jacob is captured from chapters 37 through the end of the book. 13 chapters had been dedicated for this single man. Yes. His fore fathers, Abraham, Issac & his own father Jacob had their shares of trouble in their lives but what Joseph went through is far beyond any one could have imagined.


Hated by his own brothers to extent of them considering murdering him, sold as a slave, wrongly accused by his master’s wife, forgotten in the prison. Even after being so wronged and even after the death of his father, Joseph, the man of God who was refined by God as gold purified in fire was able to say to his brothers, Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.21So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones. (Genesis 50:19-21).


From one of the last statements of Jesus prior to the cross (See John 16:33), we know, we are going to be in tribulation, persecution and suffering.


John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.


Suffering in Christian life is inevitable. In one degree or the other every one of us has gone through and going through and will go through in our lives. James, the half—brother of Jesus when he wrote to the suffering saints said:


James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray


The Scriptural antidote to the suffering caused by evil treatment or persecution is seeking God’s comfort through prayer.


Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5, while admonishing the believers not to repay evil, rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I think a clarification must be made. The verse says, we are to give thanks “in everything, in all circumstances NOT for everything.” “In” the experience of trials and trouble, joy can still be found because we know that every experience has a purpose and place in God's plan for our lives.


Going back to James 5, he encourages the suffering saints to be patient, be strengthened by the fact that the coming of the Lord is near


8You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.


That is the secret of endurance. Be patient. Hang in there. Stay put. When the going gets tough: “God is producing a harvest in our lives”. Instead of growing impatient with God and with ourselves, we must yield to the Lord and permit the fruit to grow.


Peter also when hr wrote to suffering saints said:


1 Peter 1:6-7 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


To paraphrase those verses, trials and suffering must come to prove that our faith we cling to, is the real thing and that God is honored by it .


If you are experiencing a painful moment in your life right now, you don't have to fake having joy "for" the pain. Your joy is to be in the knowledge that God is in control and your faith in Him is unshakeable.


Exactly 130 years before on this very day June 26 1881, Spurgeon preached on 1 Samuel 30 and quoted David’s song from Psalm 42


Why so downcast O my soul put your hope


In his sermon, he encouraged them to write down the blessings of the Lord and do self-talking to their souls. I agree with him. Men and women of God with good intentions may weep with us but in the end, they cannot change our attitude or circumstance it is up to us to count the blessings and aids from God in the past, encourage our souls and get up from the ashes.


Let’s pray.


Prayer:


Father, thank you for the clouds of witnesses before us, the joyfully suffered saints looking forward to the future from Stephen to the disciples who rejoiced at their suffering because God considered them worthy to suffer. Please give us that mind set. Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters whose suffering I cannot even begin to fathom. I pray for your divine strength for them. Help them to understand it is not just Sam encouraging them to be patient, be strong, and be prayerful. It is the Word of God admonishing us to do so irrespective of my understanding of their suffering. As a Church, we also pray for those who are being persecuted for their faith, for their walk with you. Father, please convert their persecutors by the witness and joy of your persecuted children. I pray this in Jesus name, Amen.

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