Summary: Understanding how to obtain the blessings of suffering as Christians.
WE MUST THROUGH MANY TRIBULATIONS...
What is tribulation, but that very influence that brings us nearer to the heart of God than prayers or hymns?
I think sorrows usually bring us closer to God than joys do, but sorrow, to be of use, must be endured, as Christ’s were, victoriously, carrying with them intimations and sacred prophecies to the heart of hope. This is not only so we will not be overcome by them, but also so we will be strengthened and ennobled and enlarged by them. When God comes to you wrapped and wreathed in clouds and in storms, why should we not recognize Him, and say, "I know you, God; and I will not flee from you; though you slay me, I will trust thee"? If a man could see God in his troubles and take sorrow to be the sweet, discipline of a bitter medicine that brings health, though the taste of medicine is not agreeable—if one could so look upon his God, how sorrows would make him strong!
We grow in our understanding through difficulties, as God opens to us that which we could not have understood with any other background or in any other set of circumstances. Our assurance as children of the living God is that He is able to bring beauty from ashes and to give the "oil of joy" for the Spirit of mourning (Isaiah 61:3), and in addition, He refines, purifies, proves and causes to grow in us something very precious and lasting in our attitudes toward Him and in our actions to other human beings. As He removed the hedge protecting Job (or anyone of us...) He is also able to give us the grace to come through the onslaught that follows. However, there is much more than just "coming through", still hanging on to our trust and love of God.
In the midst of trials how often we say, "if only I knew what to do"; or we may say, "I don’t know which way to turn". God has promised to give us His wisdom, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Not only are we to ask God for wisdom, but we are to ask in faith. Someone has said, "Doubt is a non-conductor of grace", we are not to be double-minded, wanting partly our way and partly God’s way. As we ask God and ask in faith, God has promised to give liberally. We are to ask for wisdom to face severely the trials of today, unwaveringly trusting in Him. We are to ask for wisdom to meet each trial of life and to face it triumphantly. This topic will be covered in later chapters.
When I am Weak Then I am Strong
I remember reading 2 Timothy 4:5 one day, in which I believe the Lord used this text to speak to me directly, it said, "But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry", this verse brought about true conviction in my heart. These are the very same words that keep me going each day of my life as a Christian and as a servant of God. Times are hard and trials will keep on coming, but the Lord, with His wonderful grace is sufficient to help us go on.
I can truly say that through all the strong winds and through the hard pounding storms; He has been with me by my side each moment of my ministry. We sometimes come to a point when we feel very weak spiritually and have no strength to go on in life, so we just decide to give up and not go on fighting. Many times I have felt this way and it’s been hard to recover. But through our weakness is when the Lord glorifies Himself in our lives as long as we wait in Him patiently.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, 10, we read about Paul, his sufferings and weakness. What fascinates me the most is what he wrote in these two verses "And He (the Lord) said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecution, in distress, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." How beautiful it is to read this from a man of God who through all the sufferings and persecutions, he still remained faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ. God is an awesome God; there is no other that can be able to accomplish all that He has in our lives. Even in our own weakness’ He is faithful enough to make us strong so that we can stand up and continue fighting our way into His kingdom.