Thursday, May 19, 2011

May 19, 2011 … Rejoicing in Suffering

Passage of the Day: 1st Peter 4: 13 [see bold highlight] … 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.

My Journal for Today: I left yesterday’s devotional reference to 1st Peter 4: 12 above for any reader’s contextual review. Reading back to the May 18 journal entry on this blogsite may be helpful in that regard.

In today’s verse (1st Peter 4: 13), Peter exhorts Christians to do something that is really a stretch for most of us – to REJOICE in the face of suffering, especially in the face of “painful trials.” Remember, he was writing to Christians who were being burned alive by the Emperor Nero’s orders for their faith. But how does one do that – i.e., to do as Jesus said in Matt: 5: 11 – 12

SCRIPTURE: Matt. 5: 11 – 12 [Jesus from His Sermon on the Mount] … 11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I don’t know about you; but when I’m being persecuted for my faith, it’s pretty hard to feel “blessed.” But God’s word would not be teaching believers in this way unless it were not only possible – but the truth. The Apostles learned this lesson by recognizing their worthiness to suffer in Christ’s Name (see Acts 5: 41). But you may be saying to yourself, “But, Bill, the Apostles had seen the resurrected Jesus, face-to-face; and they witnessed all those miracles.” And you are right on if you’re thinking that. It’s simply not natural, in our flesh to REJOICE or feel blessed when we’re going thru some fiery trial of life. No, ... to be joyful in the face of troubles is just flat supernatural.

To find joy in the midst of our trials, the Apostles before us, and now, we too, must be able to lay our trust totally in Christ’s hands – again seeing all trials in the context of Romans 8: 28 or 1st Peter 5: 7 … i.e., that the trials of life are ALL for our good as believers; and we can ALWAYS give them over to a caring God. As I’ve written in an earlier devotional, this becomes a measurement of the maturity of our faith … faith that is seen in our choice to see and find joy in the face of tribulation, … also remembering that joy is a choice and not a feeling.

As believers in and followers of Christ, when we put our suffering in the context of Christ’s suffering on the cross; and with the realization of His second coming and our ultimate glorification, we can choose joy … yes, even in suffering! One day, when Christ returns for His Bride, She (the church – and prayerfully that’s you and me) will rejoice forever beyond measure.

My Prayer Today: You are my joy, Lord, … even in trials. Amen

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