Thursday, 29 January 2015

Suffering, refining, glorifying

"I want to know Christ-yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings." (Philippians 3:10)
Jennie Allen: "So what if the greatest thing you have to give to the world could be hidden in your darkest moments? What if your scars point to a greater story?


Our lives are a breath, and if we are here for just a minute, I'd like my one little breath to feel more like a mighty gust of wind. And that takes surrender. It takes perseverance and not wasting my minutes away on Facebook or on complaining. The apostles ...were happy, because God had considered them worthy to suffer for the sake of Jesus." (Acts 5:41).

Hear me. Even though it may seem counterintuitive, it is an honor to suffer. It is a privilege. And we are not to waste it. God wrote suffering into our stories and wants to redeem it for his glory. If we stop shaking our fists at him, we could possibly sit down and see we are running from a life in flames toward a great purpose-one that could never exist without the flames.

Joseph was a brat with a vision. And God was preparing him for that purpose. Joseph would save and lead nations, but first he had to learn who this story was about.

When Joseph first had a vision, he thought that vision was for his own glory. When that vision finally came true and his brothers were bowing before him, Joseph said these words:
"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20).

The suffering I may endure is not for me. It is for God's purpose. That may be to refine me, to make me more like Jesus but it is NOT about me. It is about GOD.

Readings from Release, Revive, Repair, Rebuild today are from 2 Corinthians 5:17 - we are - I am - a new creation in Christ.

And again: Isaiah 40:31
"But those who trust the Lord
will find new strength.
They will be strong like eagles
soaring upward on wings;
they will walk and run
without getting tired."

As I study these words, I find myself again drawn to Psalm 103: "The Lord is merciful!
He is kind and patient, and his love never fails."

I love Matthew Henry's commentary: "Where God had begun the work of grace, he will perfect it. He will help those who, in humble dependence on him, help themselves. As the day, so shall the strength be. In the strength of Divine grace their souls shall ascend above the world. They shall run the way of God's commandments cheerfully. Let us watch against unbelief, pride, and self-confidence. If we go forth in our own strength, we shall faint, and utterly fall; but having our hearts and our hopes in heaven, we shall be carried above all difficulties, and be enabled to lay hold of the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus."

As ever: just keep on going. As the old chorus goes:
"Do not worry over what to eat,
what to wear or put on your feet.
Trust and pray, go do your best today,
then leave it in the hands of the Lord.
Leave it in the hands of the Lord.

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