I Didn’t Sign Up For This…Or Did I?
One of the most pervasive untruths spread by many so-called ‘new gospels’ seem to give the impression that once you’ve given your heart to Jesus, He makes everything alright, all your problems go away and there will be nothing but smooth sailing all the way to glory. Most obviously, this is not the case. This is not stated to discourage anyone away from giving their heart to Jesus, yet the truth must be told. Regardless of who we are in the kingdom, or how long we’ve been in the kingdom, if you name the name of Jesus, you will suffer persecution of some kind. I imagine that what we experience is not very much different from what unbelievers have to deal with, except for one thing- the Satan factor. We in the kingdom have an extra added attraction to the situations we go through. We have the arch enemy of our collective souls who many times engineers, manufactures and is the silent instigator behind much of what we endure. He is at odds with us because we have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of His dear Son. We’ve made him mad. We’ve gloriously ticked him off!
It isn’t that God is not sovereign and in complete control. It’s just that the Lord gives the enemy a bit of rope and a measure of latitude in our lives. Don’t worry though (**SPOILER ALERT**), it all works out in the end. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). Bless His name!
Having said that though, is it all worth it? I mean our opening verse states clearly that, ‘those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.’ Wow. is that what we have to look forward to? This is no doubt a pessimists point of view. What this view fails to realize is that we are not alone. God has never and will never allow any of His children to bear more than they are able to handle. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13). The word temptation in this verse is referring to trials. Our God will see us through.
The great apostle Paul is our shining example of one who faced seemingly insurmountable circumstances, yet lived to tell about it. I believe that every child of God will experience their fair share of what Paul faced. In 2 Corinthian 4:8-9, Paul says he dealt with trouble (pressure), perplexity(not knowing what to do), persecution and being cast down (whether emotionally or physically). In 2 Timothy chapter 4, Paul admits that he had been forsaken, mistreated and opposed. This selective listing is by no means exhaustive because Paul went through so much more! Knowing this, we should never underestimate our enemy because he will use any means necessary to accomplish his goal to stifle and undermine the work of the Lord. However, neither should we underestimate the power of our God!
What was Paul’s perspective on the things he suffered? His outlook is no less than stunning. Take a look at 2 Corinthians 4:16-17: For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Light affliction? Momentary? Is he serious? Yes! Paul here is stressing the temporary nature of all we endure in light of eternity. He saw everything from an eternal point of view. Similarly, in Romans 8:18 he states: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. So is it all worth it? The answer is a resounding ‘Yes, yes Lord, Amen!
In spite of what we may face, our God promises us that we will not be alone. Nearing the end of his life, Paul spoke from his heart to young pastor Timothy. He mentions four things the Lord had done for him, even while he was in the midst of his circumstances. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:17-18). There you have it! In our day of trouble, we can count on God’s faithfulness, his strength when we are weak, his deliverance from every evil work, and the knowledge that He will see us to the end. God is so good!
It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus; Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ; One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase; So bravely run the race, till we see Christ!
That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.