Suffering and The Cross
What is the Meaning of the Cross?
“IT IS FINISHED!” (John 19:30)
These are the most important words in the Bible. When a follower of God understands the real meaning of those words the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus become an epiphany of glory and praise!
The cross was the goal of Jesus from the time He was born in Bethlehem by a miracle of God. His birth was so there would be His death. “Immanuel,” which means “God with us,” (Matthew 1: 23) was made possible for you and me. And here is the bottom line of the incredible, beyond words, passionate love of God for you and me: Jesus, God in human form, was born to die, so that you and I might live. And when He had accomplished the purpose He had come to fulfill, He summed it up in these 3 words: “It is finished!”
In the original Greek, it was a common word. Joseph probably used it after He finished a project that He and Jesus might have been working on together in the carpentry shop. Joseph might have turned to Jesus and said, “It is finished. Now let’s go have lunch.” It is finished. Mission accomplished. It is done.
SO WHAT WAS FINISHED ON THE CROSS?
THE SUFFERING OF JESUS. Finished and completed were the horrendous sufferings of Christ. Never again would He experience pain at the hand of wicked men. Never again would He have to bear the sins of the world. Never again would He, even for a moment, be forsaken of God. That was completed. That was taken care of.
THE POWER OF THE DEVIL. Also finished was Satan’s stronghold on humanity. Jesus came to deal a decisive blow against the devil and his demons at the cross of Calvary. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.” This means that you no longer have to be under the power of sin. Because of Jesus’ accomplishment at the cross, finished was the stronghold of Satan on humanity. Satan and his demons were defeated for ever! The devil has no control over your life, ever, unless you allow it. God has you covered!
THE POWER OF SIN OVER YOU. And lastly, finished was our salvation. It is completed. It is done. All of our sins were transferred to Jesus when He hung on the cross. His perfect life was transferred to our account.
There are two standards of goodness while we are in this world. One is the standard of religion, culture and society, which is primarily based on observable behavior. The other is God’s standard that is based on the state of your heart. If your heart is God’s even though people may point their fingers at your faults and shortcomings, God says, “He/she is covered by me! He/she is my child!” The devil has no control over you when you surrender to God. The growth and the changes you experience in your life are the result of God’s presence in your life not some religious or psychological gimmicks of improved behavior.
Two days followed that incredible Friday evening after Jesus said, “It is finished”
THE SABBATH! The Sabbath was not just a day. It had been a whole symbol since the first week of creation. The Sabbath was as much an act of creation as what God created in the 6 days prior to creating the Sabbath! The Sabbath was actually created to celebrate the creation of the other 6 days.
That day had not been changed since the beginning of Creation. The Sabbath was created by God at the beginning, to commemorate His CREATION, and when Jesus died, Sabbath was the day of rest from the work of RE-CREATION! Jesus did not die on Friday by coincidence. The entire weekend was planned by God since the times of eternity with a purpose! The symbol of the Sabbath as a day of REST can not be underestimated. Sabbath, the 7th day of the week, means you and I can rest from the concerns of our eternal destiny. There is nothing more glorious and fantastic than that! When you chose to follow God, every Sabbath reminds you that God is your Creator and Re-Creator… and it also reminds you that you can have a PEACE that no human strategy or earthly good can give you.
As the Sabbath was a seal that the work of God was finished on behalf of the human race, the resurrection morning was a window into the power of God to keep His word. He promised salvation… He promised eternal life… He promised power to overcome the obstacles of this life, and He proved it by bringing Jesus back to life! Jesus went back to heaven with a human body like yours and mine to remind the entire universe that God’s character was in harmony with the spirit of His creation on this planet.
There is no greater contradiction than the religious notion that God is waiting for you to become a good person! When someone says, “I am a good person, why do I need God?” he/she is simply devaluing the only “goodness” that matters in the eyes of God. When someone says, “I am OK, but I am trying to be better to make it to heaven” it must sound like an insult to the ears of a God that gave it ALL so you could be certain of your destiny. “God’s goodness” is way greater than any self-generated human goodness. Good people, without God, do not understand the true nature of sin. Get this, friend… “SIN” is not the opposite of “GOOD.” That’s what religion and morality has made you believe! “SIN” is being good or bad, apart from God! It is as simple as that! Human goodness means nothing in the eyes of God!
The message of Jesus on the cross, “IT IS FINISHED” means that nothing can be done to improve the perfect work of God done for humanity. People will not go to heaven or hell on the basis of their goodness, but by accepting God in their lives as the only source of PERFECTION.
God has shown His power to transform death into life… Scars into stars… He has given clear evidence that He is powerful to overcome Satan and the demons… God, the Creator of the Universe is on your side, and He is victorious forever and ever! When you surrender your life to God, He looks at you and all He sees is a “PERFECT” person walking in a sinful world for a while.
There is no better GOOD NEWS anywhere else! Jesus said that if we are to truly be His disciple, we are to “take up our cross daily and follow Him” (Luke 9:23).
But what does that mean? To understand that, we need to understand the meaning of the cross in that time and culture. The cross has lost most of its original meaning today. It is shrouded in religiousness and mystery. It has become many things, from a religious icon to a fashion element.
When we see the cross today, it is a symbol of faith—particularly the Christian faith. But understand this, Friend. When Jesus said the words of Luke 9:23, He had not yet died on the cross. So, Jesus knew by cultural contextual reference, that the cross was a symbol of death. In fact, it was the symbol of a very cruel death. The Romans reserved it for the worst criminals. It was a form of torture and humiliation, ultimately leading to a long and painful death. Jesus knew that was coming to Him. And chose to speak to His disciples about the mark of His true followers. “Take up your cross and follow me!"
Why would Jesus use the cross to illustrate what it meant to follow Him? Jesus intentionally used a gruesome symbol to get the people’s attention. He did this to say that following Him was not “child’s play.” It is not a game and IT IS NOT EASY. In fact, it will cost you to follow Him as a disciple. But, on the other hand, it will cost you more not to follow Him. There is a cost involved in being a disciple of Jesus!
What does it mean to “bear the cross” today? Often, we hear people say that they have a “cross” to bear. They will say, “My cross is my parents!” Their parents would probably say, “Our cross is our children!” They identify whatever problem or obstacle they have as their “cross to bear.” But that is not what the cross means.
The cross symbolizes one thing: dying to self. It really is a paradox: by “dying to self,” or “losing yourself,” you “find yourself.” Through death, you find real life. Matthew 10:39
What does it mean to “die to self”? I realize that the whole concept of “dying to self” is so counter-intuitive to what our culture stands for. “Die to self” when you can leave your spouse and move on to a better temporary condition? “Die to self” when you are being taught that the person with the most toys wins? Not a popular statement by any stretch of the imagination. It is not the problem, or the challenge you face that becomes the cross you bear. It’s your reaction to the challenge. Do you get up and keep fighting in our power? Or do you die to self and surrender to God? That is the paradox of the cross! Allow me to give you a few practical examples of how this would work in day-to-day living.
To bear the cross means forgiving, instead of harboring that grudge or giving in to the possibility to get even! Has someone hurt you badly? Do you dream with revenge? Forgiving means dying to self. That’s the cross Jesus invites you to carry!
It means resisting that temptation to do what everybody else does. Standing alone in the midst of a crowd that is walking in one direction, when God says to you, “No. I want you to go this way!” That kind of obedience requires dying to self.
It means putting down the remote control and picking up your Bible. Or it means to stop watching the movie, the show, that fills your mind with unreal scenes of sensuality, and reading your Bible instead. Unless you die to self, you won’t be willing to do that! The Bible is nor emotional enough for your senses!
It means praying when you would rather be talking to a friend, watching TV, doing something else. Setting time for God in the secret chamber of your mind requires dying to self. There is always something more “fun” to do than praying! The 30 minute drive to work… you immediately turn the radio on… You need noise to survive boredom! Unless you die to self, it won’t occur to you that those 30 minutes you could be talking to God.
It means “swallowing your pride” and telling someone about Jesus. I am convinced that followers of God can not witness unless they die to self. I have watched Christians for years… They are ashamed to talk to people about God? Why? Their self is alive! It’s scary!
It means doing what God wants you to do, instead of what you want to do. This is a tough one. Because the moments when God speaks to us, can be split seconds, and if you did not hear God, it’s gone! Your brain is wired to do what you want to do. Did you know that, Friend?
To die to self requires a rewiring of your old brain, by the power and the presence of God in your life.
Now let me ask you, “Are you dying to yourself and taking up the cross?” Is your religion huge in emotions, and short in authentic faith? Is your walk with God based on your moods and an emotional response or based on principles? Is your walk with God superficial, or do you get into the Word, and pray like your life depends on it?
Carrying the cross and dying to self is not an option for followers of Christ. It is a commandment. It is a duty. You don’t wait to feel good about it before you actually obey. You obey first, then you will experience joy and overflowing life!
This is the crux of the problem for many followers of God. They want to carry the cross, when they find a better spouse, or when they have more money, or when they feel like their life is on the right track. All to the contrary. The call to obedience is to take up your cross, whatever it might be, and die to self.
“The Warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought." (E.G.White, Steps to Christ, p. 27)
Paul summed it up well when he wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Jesus paradoxical statements can sound pretty unappealing. Let me get practical here.
You imagine yourself living in this miserable, sacrificial, unhappy condition, letting go of self and ending in the Mojave dessert hoping you can find yourself. But the fact of the matter is that nothing could be further from the truth. Note that Jesus says, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it!” Think of it as “God’s trade-in plan.”
I can not tell you how many times i have heard a man or a woman telling me that they are divorcing or separating because they need to “find themselves.” Excuse me? (By the way, I can’t stand that expression. 99% of the time it is an excuse for not choosing to love, or choosing to hide an affair) One makes that statement usually before doing something really selfish, like walking out on a marriage. They might say, “You are no longer meeting my needs. I am unhappy, so I am going to leave you because I need to find myself!” Amazing!
Could anything be more cliché, and wrong? In essence, Jesus says, “You want to find yourself? Then lose yourself."
Do you want to find life, purpose, and personal happiness? Then say, “Lord, here is my life, I surrender my plans, my aspirations, my dreams, as well as my weaknesses, shortcomings, and sins. I believe that Your plans are better than mine in the long run." Surrendering to God is the way to let go of your life, and allowing God to give you a life blessed by Him.
But what does it mean to “take up our cross and follow Him?” This is explained in Luke 13:33: “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple." Literally, this means: “You must surrender your claim to everything and say goodbye to being in control.”
That does not mean that to live as a disciple of Jesus one has to take a vow of poverty and give every possession away. Jesus meant that we are to surrender our claim to our possessions. In other words, we are not to be possessed by possessions.
It’s fine to have clothes, a car, a house, and a career. It’s fine to have friends, hobbies, and interests. But the true disciple should not be obsessed with these things. The only obsession a disciple should have is for Jesus Christ. He must be the most important pursuit in our lives. He must be more important than our career or our personal happiness.
The fact is we will find the personal happiness we want not by seeking it, but by seeking Him. It could be letting go of anger… desire for vengeance… resentment… control over the affairs of your life… welcome interruptions with an open attitude… God may have something in store for you that you have no way to see right now…
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24).
It may be letting of your expectations for a the marriage of your dreams. It may be letting go of your dreams to retire early and for some reason or other you find yourself not being able to retire. It may be someone betrayed you in a business transaction. Whatever the “cross” is… carry it in the name of Jesus, and God will bless you beyond your wildest imagination. This is the crux of the problem for many followers of God. They want to carry the cross, when they find a better spouse, or when they have more money, or when they feel like their life is on the right track. All to the contrary. The call to obedience is to take up your cross, whatever it might be, and die to self.
“The Warfare against self is the greatest battle that was ever fought.” E.G.White, Steps to Christ, p. 27
Paul summed it up well when he wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
Purpose of Suffering
Did you know God suffers with you? Did you know God keeps a record of your tears?
This is what the Bible says in Psalm 56:8, “You keep track of all my sorrows. YOU HAVE COLLECTED ALL MY TEARS IN YOUR BOTTLE. YOU HAVE RECORDED EACH ONE IN YOUR BOOK.” Did you know that about God, Friend!
It is not wrong to cry. It is human. I feel sorry for people who can not cry. God keeps a record of our tears, because tears represent pain, suffering, losses, rejection, disappointments, betrayal, anger and longings.
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” - C.S. Lewis
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
It is true that God takes a life that is empty, or full of irrelevant stuff, aimless, and headed toward hell, turns it around and transforms it by His magnificent power and presence. He forgives totally, 100% your sin condition. Once and forever you become free from the penalty of sin. Moreover, He credits the very righteousness of Jesus Christ into our “spiritual bank account.”
Then He begins the work of transformation. He begins to remove guilt and shame, fear and darkness, addictions and toxic behavior, and fills the void with love, kindness, compassion and a sense of His presence.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. IF WE DON’T KNOW HOW OR WHAT TO PRAY, IT DOESN’T MATTER. HE DOES OUR PRAYING IN AND FOR US, MAKING PRAYER OUR OF OUR WORDLESS SIGHS, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that EVERY DETAIL in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” (Romans 8:26-28)
“God remembered us when we were down, His love never quits. Rescued us from the trampling boot, His love never quits. Takes care of everyone in time of need. His love never quits. Thank God, who did it all! His love never quits!” (Psalm 136: 23-26)
The very heart of the Gospel, the Messianic Good News, is contained in Isaiah 61 (NIV). 750 years plus BC, the prophet Isaiah predicted the words Jesus would use describing His mission. Luke 4:18-19. This is the reason why Jesus came to this world. To display the love of God before humanity and the universe. God promised to turn bad into good for His people!
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a CROWN OF BEAUTY INSTEAD OF ASHES, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
If you believe God is sovereign, you will never turn into a victim! I have wondered myself many times, why certain things are the way they are. Your feelings and emotions may betray you. People’s views may deceive you. But, if by faith, you firmly believe God is in control of every thing, you will rest in Him. You will give up the fight. You will receive the gift of the experiential “Sabbath,” (Rest in Hebrew) which is deeper than the simple legalistic observance of a weekly rest. I believe in the weekly observance totally, but the deeper meaning of the “Sabbath,” is a peace, a rest, that moves beyond what the human eye can see and reason can understand. It is the experience of trust in God. At peace with the disconnected pieces of this life’s puzzle.
This is the very point of differentiation between RELIGION and a RELATIONSHIP with God. Because God wills into a relationship with us, He sees, he suffers, He walks with us. Because He knows, He will turn all things according to His original purpose.
Do you trust God? Do you believe God loves you? Then you know deep down in your heart, that God will bring all good things to happen to those who love Him. God wills into a relationship with us, He sees, he suffers, He walks with us. Because He knows, He will turn all things according to His original purpose.
“Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?” (Mark 8: 34-37)
There are 3 promises in the Bible I want you to remember today.
- Suffering makes you BETTER. I know it might sound odd! :-)
Read 2 Corinthians 12:9 carefully… Absorb in your mind the full impact of what the apostle Paul says,
"…and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a HANDICAP to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to GET ME DOWN; what he in fact did was PUSH ME TO MY KNEES. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a GIFT, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he [God] told me:
My grace is enough; it’s all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad TO LET IT HAPPEN. I quit FOCUSING on the HANDICAP and BEGAN APPRECIATING the GIFT. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And SO THE WEAKER I GET, THE STRONGER I BECOME."
God… “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure” Peter Marshall
- God has the POWER to CREATE THE BEST OUT OF BAD THINGS.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we DON’T KNOW HOW OR WHAT TO PRAY, IT DOESN’T MATTER. HE DOES OUR PRAYING IN AND FOR US, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. THAT’S WHY WE CAN BE SURE THAT EVERY DETAIL IN OUR LIVES OF LOVE FOR GOD IS WORKED INTO SOMETHING GOOD.” Romans 8:28
God promises to give us “bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.”
God can use your pain, your suffering, to bless others. God can transform a calamity in an opportunity for people to bless you! God has 1001 ways to create something great out of miserable conditions. This promise ONLY applies to followers of God!
- God knows YOUR LIMITS. God knows how much you can take. God is the HUMAN SUFFERING MANAGER. This is a promise from God to you, in whatever you are facing right now, if you are a follower of His!
“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that GOD WILL NEVER LET YOU DOWN; HE’LL NEVER LET YOU BE PUSHED PAST YOUR LIMIT; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
Whatever it is,
- Physical suffering…
- Relational conflict…
- A loveless marriage….
- Financial hardships…
God 1) Can USE bad to make you better 2) Has the POWER to turn all things into something good 3) Will NEVER let you be pushed beyond your ability to endure!
This is the Good News for today, friend! Share it with someone else!
Share with people today, the Good News of a loving God, as if their eternal lives would depend on you. Live and love today, as if this would be your last day on earth! Nothing matters most!
It’s absolutely true that when you trust Christ as Savior, and surrender to God, He removes a whole set of problems you used to have—including the nagging guilt, the shame, the fear, and that empty sense of aimlessness in life that used to haunt you.
This world is broken. People are broken. There are demonic forces driving people to hurt others. There is death, sickness, cancer, the drunk driver on the road, divorce, imperfect DNA, and all kind of maladies caused by SIN.
I am all for positive messages of encouragement. I am all for the promises of God in the Bible, and the reward to faithfulness. I am all for “happy endings” even if not all stories on this earth have a “happy ending.” Jesus ended up on a cross. Jesus’ disciples, all, except one were martyrs. They died violent deaths.
I am a bit suspicious of preachers who make everything look so good, that you are not prepared for the tests that will come upon you as a follower of God.
The day you surrender to God and put your trust in Him, at that very precise second, you walk into an unknown battlefield—a warfare that will last for the rest of your life. There will be joy and happy moments for sure. But there will be fierce battles also. There will be cancer. There will be Columbines, there will be Sandy Hook Elementary School, there will be Auroras, and there will be the suffering of innocent people.
Why? Because not only is there a God who loves you with passion, and has a plan for your life, but there is also a devil who hates you, and fiercely opposes God’s plan. God will at times allow the devil to bring suffering into your life because that is His shaping tool to make you a citizen of His Kingdom. WE don’t have the answers now, why this person, and not that one. Why me, and not you. Or why you and not me.
It’s a gospel that promises peace and plenty, but never warns of persecution. It’s a gospel that says God wants you to be healthy and wealthy, and never tells you you may become homeless. It’s a gospel that says you can so wrap yourself in God’s favor that there will always be enough money for what you need and want, a parking space available for you at the mall, and people will all smile and treat you like royalty.
Friend, that is not the Good News of God. I can assure you, the last thing on Paul’s mind was, “How can win a lottery ticket? Or how can I make sure I have enough money to deal with the fiscal cliff? Or what kind of gun I should have in my house in case an intruder breaks in? How can I protect my family?” Paul instead said, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The soldier Paul had in mind was not armed with guns and assault weapons. He was armed with the presence of God. Read Ephesians 6: 10-18.
Comparison with other followers of God, or people who brag of God’s blessings is a very dangerous game. Don’t fall for it.
First of all, because so called “Christians” that are forever claiming blessings, rewards and no “pain,” I am not sure are reading the same Bible I read. I say this with all respect. And second, because you don’t know God’s ways, you don’t know that person’s heart, you don’t know the end of the road. Only God knows it! God is in control of every event on this planet. But He is also in the business of shaping people for eternity.
The essence of the Christian life is knowing God, walking with Him, obeying Him, and enduring the trials and tribulations you face with Him by your side. Trusting him when things go good, and when things turn upside down. That’s it!
Following God is about sticking with Him when the sky is blue, where the sun is out, and also when it’s filled with clouds or choked with smoke. It’s about walking with God through thick and thin, and pressing on through every heartache and trial that happens to come our way. It is about laughing hard, and crying bitter tears, like the parents of innocent kids in Connecticut, and the loved ones of those who were murdered brutally.
Jesus made it clear that storms will enter every life. Yours and mine. But it is through these storms and hardships and tribulations that we will enter God’s kingdom.
Luke put it this way: “And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘WE MUST THROUGH MANY TRIBULATIONS ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD’” (Acts 14:21–22 NKJV).
We don’t always welcome a verse like this. It’s not a passage we would love to frame and put on the wall of our living room.
We would probably rather frame something that reads, “Through many days of perpetual happiness, joy, and pleasure we will enter the kingdom of God.” But that isn’t Scripture, and that isn’t life. Trials and tribulations will come no matter what.
Job said: “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1 NKJV). Another version translates it like this: “How frail is man, how few his days, how full of trouble!” (TLB) This is so true!
In the Sermon on the Mount, (Matthew 7: 21-28), Jesus told a story about two men who built two homes. One of the builders erected his home on shifting sand by the beach. He had always dreamed with an ocean view. He finally got it. The other guy found a piece of property that was literally a huge rock. He built his house there. The foundations were the opposite of each other.
Time went by, and the guy by the beach had a terrific time. The guy who built the house on the rock had to climb stairs and the house was not right there by the beach. But then the season of storms came. With the storms came the torrential rains, the strong winds, tornadoes, and the waves of the ocean hit the shore with extraordinary force. The storm hit both houses. The house built by the beach collapsed. The one built on the rock stood firm.
The obvious point of Jesus’ story is that you and I must build our lives on a foundation that will last, like the one we find in the pages of God’s Word.
But here’s an application we sometimes miss. The storm came to both lives. The wind beat on both houses. The rain poured on both building sites.
The man who was wise and carefully chose a stable foundation got hit with the same hurricane-force winds as the man who wanted instant gratification and wanted to make sure his friends would choose his house for parties. The view, the convenience of the water, the weather was all attractive at the moment.
No one is exempt from experiencing storms in life. Good things will happen to us, as well as tragic and inexplicable things. Every life will have its share of pain.
As much as we would like to believe otherwise, none of us can take an extended vacation beyond the reach of human suffering and tragedy.
The storms may be the same. Your loved one may die a horrible death. The difference between those who build their lives on God, and those who don’t, is that God is in control of the lives of those who trust Him. God can turn scars into stars. God can turn storms into renewed strength for the future. God can bring good out of evil, pain and suffering.
That is what my Bible teaches, and that is what I believe. I know it, because as I look at my own life I would have never imagined God would make me strong through the storms and the dark nights of life.
Romans 8:28 was my dad’s favorite verse, and it was the one I read at his funeral a few months ago. He lived his 94 years by this verse. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV).
A better translation would be, “He is causing all things to work and to continue working together for good.”
Please notice that this promise is only valid for followers of God.
Life is a process and, as finite beings who live moment to moment, we can’t see around the bend. We can’t discern God’s ultimate purposes.
But we can know this: He is watching and caring—in control and loving us with an everlasting love.
Seek God in your personal life! Delight in Him. Remain in His Word and will for your life. You can not be using the world’s strategies to succeed in God’s Kingdom. You can not be doing your own thing and expect God to come on board with you plan and bless you! He is not a piece of your plan. The big dream must be submitted to Him! You start with God and ask Him to reveal to you, the way He wants you to pursue it. He will do it!
Persevere. Don’t give up. This promise energizes me every time I read it. (Lamentations 3: 25-33)
“God proves to be good to the man WHO PASSIONATELY WAITS, to the woman who DILIGENTLY SEEKS. It’s a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. ENTER THE SILENCE. BOW IN PRAYER. DON’T ASK QUESTIONS: WAIT FOR HOPE TO APPEAR. Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face. The “worst” is never the worst.
Why? Because the Master WON’T EVER WALK OUT AND FAIL TO RETURN. if he works severely, he also works tenderly. His stockpiles of loyal love are immense. He takes no pleasure in making life hard, in throwing roadblocks in the way.”