There are a lot of things we do not understand about suffering. Many of our questions go unanswered but there are some things we can know.
We can know that God knows all about our suffering (Psalms 56:8).
We can know that God understands everything we are going through (Hebrews 4:15).
We can know that God truly cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Suffering hurts. We don’t want to suffer. But it will help us to know that there are at least five benefits of suffering for the Christian.
1. It tests our faith (Jam. 1:2-4). If we meet our trials with faith, we will develop the patience needed to mature spiritually. It is when our faith is tested that we grow and become strong. So, we can rejoice even in our trials. Do you remember how God tested Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22, commanding him to sacrifice his son? Can you imagine a greater test of faith? Hebrews 11:17-19 explains what Abraham was thinking. He believed God would raise his son from the dead. That is a great faith. Do we have the faith of Abraham? Will we trust God enough to do what He has asks of us? God wants to know if you will keep faith even in the greatest tests of life.
Most denominations that profess Christianity have used and continue to use musical instruments in their worship. Today, more and more churches of Christ are joining them in that practice. Many don’t think it matters to God and others think it’s what God wants. So, here are a couple of thoughts that I have found in the Scriptures for us to consider.
“Listen to your heart.” “Follow your feelings.” “Trust your gut.”
But, the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).
That’s right! The heart lies. It lies better than it does anything else.
It is not just wicked. It is desperately wicked. It is as evil as it can be.
You cannot really know what is going on in your heart. It may lead you, unknowingly, to your own destruction, as Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”
A lot of attention is given to the baby Jesus in the manger at Christmas time. It is a humble setting, usually portrayed in a stable with animals. If this was so, it would have been a smelly place, certainly not what you would think of for the King of kings and Lord of lords.
His parents took Him to Nazareth. This despised city became His home for the next 30 years, until He began His ministry in Galilee. It lasted for three and a half years, with no place to lay His head. During this time, He was rejected by His own people and the Jewish leaders sought to kill Him. He was betrayed, arrested, hit and spit upon, falsely accused, mocked, scourged and crucified. He was forsaken, denied and doubted even by those closest to Him.
John 8:31-32 “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’”
True disciples of Jesus abide in His word. They are not followers of men. They do not live by the creeds, traditions, doctrines or philosophies of men. They stay with Jesus’ word.
I like to read all kinds of books, but the Bible is unlike any other book in the world!
It claims to be an accurate record of the words of God Himself. Internal and external evidence substantiates this claim but there is an intrinsic convicting power that will move anyone who reads it with a good and honest heart to a sure and certain faith.
Many have never really given the book a fair and thorough reading.
Yes, God encourages us to come to Him for all our needs. He promises to listen to us when we ask and He promises to answer our requests. He gives generously and will never scold us for asking. You can always count on Him for every good and perfect gift.
Read it for yourself in the Bible: Matthew 7:7-11; John 14:13; Hebrews 4:14-16; James 1:2-5, 16-17; 5:16-18; 1 John 5:14-15.
Some of you may be wondering, “Why, then, do I not see this in my life? Where are God’s blessings?” The problem is never with God. It is with us. Open your heart to this teaching from James 1:5-8.
“Would you be free from the burden of sin? There’s power in the blood!”
In our bodies there is life-giving power in the blood. To our souls there is life and hope only in the blood of Jesus Christ.
There is cleansing, convicting, drawing power in the blood!
“And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all…” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
It is easy for us to criticize others. We all seem to be very quick to find fault in everybody else but ourselves. Seldom do we take the time to understand the underlying causes of their perceived weaknesses. If we knew more about their life we might be more compassionate and if we were honest it might lead us to admit that we are no better.
It is hard for us to help others until we first humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. No one can argue with the fact that we all fall far short of His glory. Every one of us suffers from problems of the heart like anger, jealousy, pride and malice. Our tongue constantly slips. Time and time again we make mistakes with our life. There is not a one of us who doesn’t need forgiveness, mercy, patience and love.
It is good for us to remember how we have been treated by God so that we will know how to treat others. God loved us when we were unlovable. He gave His Son for us while we were still sinners. He continues to help us though we often fail to be grateful. He never gives up on us even when we have given up on Him. There are a lot of angry, hurting, lost people who just need someone like you and me to love them just like we have been loved by God.
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” 1 Peter 4:8
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135