The treasure found in suffering

Worship BG - We Are The Body of Christ

Worship BG - We Are The Body of Christ (Photo credit: bemky)

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. – Colossians 1:24

Is there still suffering for the church today? I’m sure many of us can come up with examples we have experienced or know in which suffering has happened. There are different types of suffering which affect us physically and/or emotionally. There are some kinds of tribulations experienced in other countries that we cannot grasp what that would be like. Is it all worth it?

There’s a lot of treasure mined as we journey through challenges and trials. It is through the struggles where we really discover who we are, who we belong to, who we can trust, and what we are really made of. Without the hard times, we would remain oblivious to many things in life. There would be no growth in us.

So is it worth suffering for the church … the Body of Christ? Jesus seemed to think so. He willingly gave his life for it. Paul knew he lacked some spiritual things and by suffering was able to become stronger for the church. Perhaps that is why James wrote to consider it pure joy to suffer (James 1:2).

Prayer: Lord, the suffering I have experienced has made me stronger and thank you for that. I pray that I can trust you in any circumstance that comes knowing you are using it for your kingdom good. Amen

Faith Tip: Look at an area of your life in which you suffer and try to see how God is working through you in this.

Responding to Suffering

A homeless man in Paris

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“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.’” – Luke 16:19-25

I admit that when I see people suffering in some way, I don’t always know what to do. At times, it can seem overwhelming for in this world there is a lot of evidence of brokenness. My heart goes out to those that hurt and I attempt to do something. I believe these verses are talking about the condition of our heart and not what we are able to do.

Jesus said we would always have the poor with us. How our heart responds to needs makes the difference, but we need to remember that we can’t do it all. God doesn’t want us to take on everything. That’s why he gave everyone a special call on their life. Listening carefully to the Spirit is needed at all times.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I may be moved to respond where you call me to do so. I thank you that you give me the ability and enable me with your power to complete the task assigned. Amen

Faith Tip: Do you know someone in need of comfort today? Pray to God to give you direction and discernment.

Fix it strategy

Broken heart sewn back together

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From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:21-23)

When a friend of mine was going through some troubled times, I wanted to fix their situation for them so that they wouldn’t have to suffer anymore. I was interpreting the situation through my human experience and not seeking God for his plan. I took on a “god complex” where I thought I could fix it for my friend.

Sometimes God says to get out of the way so that he can do the work that he has planned. We may not understand what he is doing, we may not even like it, but God knows exactly what he is doing. If we try to fix things, we are causing a barrier to what God wants to do, which is so much better than what we can do. It’s a matter of trust.

Prayer: Lord, I pray that I can trust you in every situation. You have been so faithful, and I am to seek you and your plan for direction. I praise you for your goodness. Amen

Faith Tip: Are you trying to fix a problem for someone or for yourself? Look to the Lord for his plan and be ready to let go and step aside.

Helping those that suffer

Suffering People

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Peter… said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “…what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:21-22)

Seeing someone struggle is tough. Many of us have a “fix it” mentality where we want to jump into the middle of the situation and make sure they don’t struggle at all. We truly need to restrain ourselves and pray about our involvement. What is God doing through their struggle? When we jump in to help, we sometimes are jumping in front of God’s will for that person and blocking his work. Sometimes we need to get to the end of ourselves through suffering to truly see what God is doing and learn to depend on him.

Please don’t mistake this for not helping others when called. That’s why it is so important to stay in connection with the Holy Spirit to discern what we are to do. There are times when it is very obvious that help is needed at the moment like if someone is outside freezing without a coat or food or someone is broke down on the highway.

Think about the times you had challenges in your life. What did God work in you through these challenges? Could you have grown as much as you did without the struggle?

Prayer: Lord, it’s hard to be thankful for the times we suffer, but your work in us through the suffering makes us thankful. You always have a purpose for us. I pray that I may discern where it is you want me to jump in. Amen

Faith tip: Pray for clear direction of where God wants you to jump in and help today.

Only one way

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...

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And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:

   “You are a priest forever,
   in the order of Melchizedek.”

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:15-19)

Mary looked longingly at the new car her neighbor just purchased. She wondered how she did it. She works part time, but is that enough for her and her husband to afford a new car? Mary thought of her own car in comparison and knew hers was less. How great it must feel to get behind the wheel of a new car, she thought. She sighed and went back to her work.

Coveting is one of those commandments we are not to do. Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of breaking one of the laws or another. That is why in Hebrews it says that the law was weak and useless, because it did not make us perfect. The law does show us how imperfect we are and how much we need our high priest, Jesus, to make us perfect. It was by his death on the cross that we are made holy. There is no other way. We live a better hope because of Jesus drawing us closer to God. That’s something to praise about today!

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the laws of Moses you have established to show us how we should live. Forgive us for the times we fall short. Thank you for the grace and mercy you give us through Jesus. Amen

Faith Tip: Reflect on the true gift of the cross. Hold a cross in your hand or draw a cross and meditate on its meaning.