Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blessing in Suffering

Doesn't that blog title just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Yeah, right.

Day 3: still hangin' with Revelation

Today it was just 1:9-12a. John identifies himself as a "brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ." He is writing while in exile on a prison island named Patmos. The situation of the church is heavy. The Roman empire greatly persecutes anyone who does not confess the emperor as divine. So under these circumstances God spoke to John, instructing him to write down the vision He was going to reveal and to then pass the writings along to the seven churches.

Fairly straight-forward.

It is the backdrop to all of this that gets me. As Americans it is not our fault that we typically do not suffer torture and exile for our faith--and I am not saying that I necessarily want to. But, the expectation of prosperity and popularity and health simply because you or I follow Jesus seems a bit twisted to me.

We read the word "suffer" or "suffering" for righteousness many times throughout the New Testament. Here are just a few:

  • Romans 8:17-18--(if we are children, then we are) heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I (Paul) consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
  • Philippians 1:29--For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake
  • Philippians 3:8--Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
  • 1 Peter 5:10--But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

If you think about it, we are following the God-man who was stripped, mocked, spat upon, struck, ripped, and nailed (Matthew 27:27-44). Why do we secretly expect to prosper? Yes, we have a very good God who faithfully provides, protects, and cares meticulously for His own; but often it is through the sufferings of this life that we gain the immeasurable blessing of seeing His face and understanding His gift of unfathomable grace through trial...if we choose to seek after Him.

I want to be a daughter that holds my hands open wide, dies daily to self, letting love be my guide. This earthly life is not the end. There will be a glorious day. May we keep our eyes set firmly on eternal things rather than the temporal tides.


Go to the "Revelation" tab on the right of this page to read all of my related ponderings spurred from a study on Revelation.

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