Thursday, December 22, 2011

Suffering Saints

 19Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
 20Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
 21They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 

Suffering Saints
Years ago there was a massive movement in some Christian circles, which I am sure still exists today, embracing the idea that if one lived faithfully for the Lord he would experience the abundant life. Nothing bad would happen to him or her, and their lives would be filled with untold blessings. Therefore if one's life was filled with difficulties, it must be related to their sin.

As Christians, we must be very careful about the expectations we place upon the Lord. On one hand the Bible does promise great blessings, sometimes even physical blessings, to those who remain faithful to God. Yet, the Bible is also filled with examples of suffering saints who, though they remained faithful to God, experienced all kinds of griefs and difficulties.

How do we reconcile these two seemingly opposing ideas? The best place to look is at the Lord Jesus Christ, who interestingly is referred to in verse 21 of Psalm 69. Jesus did not seek any sort of material wealth; His purpose for being here was always set before Him. Yet, before He began His ministry on this earth, He worked in the family's carpentry business. 

Is it wrong for us to seek wealth and success while on this earth? Absolutely not! God gives many examples, as in the case of Abraham, where physical wealth and honor followed him all of the days of his life as he faithfully served God. The important thing to realize is that Abraham did not allow that wealth and prosperity to come between him and God.

However, as in the example of Christ, we must remember that we are not on this earth by chance. God has a specific purpose for each and every one of His children. We have all of the interests, abilities, and characteristics we have by design, and we are to use what God has given to us to faithfully fulfill the purpose for which He brought us to this earth!

We must also remember that that purpose may include times of reproach, dishonor, and even shame due to the adversaries God sends against us. As David expressed in Psalm 69, this reproach broke his heart; he looked for comforters and found none! In spite of all of his wealth, fame, and glory, David was truly a suffering saint. Yet, this suffering caused him to continually return to God.

In the end, true success in this life for the Christian involves our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, no matter what comes our way, whether great success and honor, or discouragement, despair, and suffering, we are continually drawn closer to the Lord. In our heart of hearts, God, our first love, brings joy, peace, and contentment to the innermost part of our being. 

As Christians, we are pleased, if God so chooses, to be suffering saints, living out our lives for the honor and glory of God, alone. Only in Him can we find complete peace, joy, and contentment. After all, we must remember, this world is not our home; we are just passing through to our true home in Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God's peace be with you!

God Bless You,

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