Friday, February 18, 2011

Suffering in Hope

       I have viewed suffering in my life as part of God's boot camp for me. Some days are rigorous training days that build me up to be a better soldier in God's army. Other days I wonder if I will ever join the great ranks in heaven, knowing that is the goal God has in view for me.  As I strive to accomplish my mission here I come across opportunities that present themselves in my path along the way. I can choose to allow those ops to become either stumbling blocks  or allow God to use them for his purposes and glory (Rom.8:28). Every saint is going to incur problems as God sanctifies him or her in this life. How does joy play into God's grand plan in the midst of our earthly suffering?
      Today I feel as I accomplished one objective in my training. I was having an internal monologue with myself, which is normal for me especially as I hit another obstacle. That is the way I process things by talking them out. Two days ago I was told I have arthritis in my lower back at 30! To me that seems plain wrong. My other health issues are enough to handle, so I thought. God thought otherwise. I am talking this through I am thinking about how all suffering is a part of our sanctification. In fact, it is a fast track to sanctification, not that that will be finished on this side of the veil. Suddenly, I thought I am happy to suffer. My Lord suffered and knew pain here. Why wouldn't I? If my suffering reveals His glory in me at all, I am more than happy and pleased to allow His will in my life.
      Romans 8:17 states, "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." If I am a sinner and deserve death (Rom. 6:23) and knowing I am the Father's child, should I not be thankful to suffer as Christ did? He being free of sin suffered was penalized for the world's fall. Not only do I deserve the suffering, but feel it is my right and duty to suffer. But where is the joy?
      The Gospel gets better and better as I read it repeatedly. The great apostle Paul knew pain and suffering physically and yet maintained a heart full of faith, love and joy. Certainly, Paul was a work of the Spirit for the fruit he bore was definite evidence of that. Romans 5:2-4 gives us this beautiful illustration. "Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." For me hope in what is to come is where my joy lies. Knowing I have a loving Father, the Savior and a guiding Spirit leading me to Him is the greatest joy in the world. My Commander is waiting for me to achieve my destiny with his strength. Glory in the future beats out any problem here any day. In Romans 8:18 Paul wrote, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." No they aren't worth it. I'll make what I can of any trial before me and let God work in me any way He chooses.


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