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Archive for September 17th, 2016

Rejoice in Suffering

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“Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV).

Rejoice in our sufferings? How can one do this? We don’t like pain. We don’t look forward to suffering. This verse was written at a time when Christianity had just begun and many believers were being persecuted. Paul wrote this to the Romans and other Gentiles who he knew would face severe trials and suffering. It applies to us today.

As they took up the Great Commission, each of the disciples suffered in various ways. They knew Jesus didn’t come just for them, but for all of us. The price to spread the Word was great; however, that did not distract the disciples from what they knew was their primary purpose here on earth.

They suffered beatings, stoning, and the sword, besides being ostracized by humanity around them. They gave up any wealth and comforts for the cause; they became great men of faith. Hebrews 11:38a pronounces a tribute to them and a reminder to us, “The world was not worthy of them.”

Christians all over the world look to their example as a source of strength. God used the evil one’s attacks and their sufferings to bring them to a deeper relationship with Him. They not only rejoiced in the face of trials ― they gloried in them.

As American Christians we often buy into the worldly view that suffering is to be avoided and the best we can do is quietly endure it while trusting God to eventually use it for good. But enduring suffering is not the attitude that the Bible prescribes over and over. God offers us a better way to face suffering ― with joy and gratitude.

How can we do that? What is the secret that the early Christians knew that we have lost? Author Gary Smalley discovered it late in life and shared it with the Focus on the Family show entitled Helping Kids Hide God’s Word in Their Hearts.

The key was his deep study into what Jesus meant by “Out of a person’s heart flows their thoughts, words, and actions.” These three also determine our emotions and attitude. Gary learned how we can change our corrupted hearts into Godly hearts.

He memorized a key verse with understanding, for instance, Matthew 5:10-11, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Then he would “stick” the text of the verse and the understanding of the verse into his heart at least eight to twelve times a day, everyday, until his heart changed from a worldly view of trials to a Godly view of trials. This might take perhaps thirty days ― more if you are currently in the midst of a serious trial like the loss of a job.

If you rejoice in your difficulties, in your trials, your persecutions, Jesus will give you more of His kingdom immediately. More of His love, more of His joy, more of His peace. . . and He will also give you treasures in heaven.
After being flogged, “The apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name [of Jesus]” (Acts 5:41).

A trial reinforces the testimony of God that you are worthy. Rejoice that God considers you worthy. Rejoice that He wants to give you more of His joy, more of His peace, and more of His strength. He is eager to be the wind beneath your wings throughout the trial until the time you see it was all for your good to glorify Him.
James tells us to rejoice when we are faced with trials. God gives us trials so we can use them as opportunities to show others His strength. Put on an attitude of joy when faced with suffering so that God will be glorified.
Matthew 6:34 promises that each day has enough trouble of its own. When difficulties show up today, try facing them with an attitude of rejoicing.

Dear God, when times of unrest and suffering surround me, give me strength to rejoice in Your ultimate plan. My suffering will never compare to what You suffered on the cross for my sake. I desire for Your will to be done. Amen.

This is an excerpt from the forty-day devotional, “Attitude Matters”. Click here to order.

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