SUFFERING AS A BELIEVER
Trials do not come our way so much as to teach us something
as they do to help us to unlearn something - SELAH!
There is one thing that God's people all share in common with the unregenerate of the world, Trouble, and that with a capital T. God makes no promise that excludes His children from adversity. In fact, Jesus promises, "In the world ye shall have tribulation." The problems that all men share in common have their origin in this one simple fact, we are all born into a fallen and sinful world. David wrote in Psalms 51:5 "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
In the Book of Job we are told, "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." There are troubles that plague the ungodly that the believer is not subjected to. Many of the bitter troubles that belong to the ungodly come about as a result of their own wicked schemes (Romans Chapter 1). Similarly, there are particular sorrows and griefs that come about in the believer's life solely because of their identity with Christ. The Bible makes it very clear that it far better to suffer trouble as a believer than to undergo problems outside of Christ. Trouble outside Christ is exactly that, TROUBLE!
Having said all of that I would like to ask this question, "How is the suffering of a believer, a person who is in Christ, different than that of an unbeliever, someone who is outside of Christ?" Specifically, I'm talking about the handling of problems as related to every-day life. Are there any immediate differences; and what, if any is the eternal ramifications?
In general terms the Bible does make a distinction concerning the lives of those who are in Christ and those who are not. Psalm 1:3,4 declares; "The godly shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. But the ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff, which the wind driveth away. " This being the case it would only make sense to conclude that since there is a moral distinction made between the two, that there must also be both a notable and remarkable difference of those who suffer trouble within the parameters of Christ grace and those who suffer outside of His grace. Let's take a look and examine some of the differences.
As believers and our trials may bring us to the dust just like any unbeliever, but the believer understands that as we wait here in silence before our Sovereign Lord our strength is renewed only to soar again to new heights. In Isaiah 40:31 we read, "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint."
Trials are bad when only viewed and experienced as a trials. There is nothing good about a trial that is endured outside of Christ. Yet, it is in the worst of times that the godly learn how to pray. The man who can pray has learned the secret by which he can bare up under his affliction. James 5:13 "Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray." It is the genuine believer who can address his prayers and rest his hope in an All-Knowing, and All-Powerful Creator, and who can say with all confidence, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD which made the heavens and the earth. He will not suffer my foot to be moved." Psalm 121:1,2
It is only natural for those outside of Christ to overrate their difficulties while going through trouble. It is more likely when you suffer a difficulty outside of Christ to end up a bitter person, living a discouraged and defeated life. But for those who have been born again, they are now capable of operating in a whole new dimension. Being empowered by the Holy Spirit of God and possessing the mind of Christ the believer is now able to perceive their circumstances or trials as something that is working for their betterment. As a result they are able to walk in victory. "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James 1:2-3
As someone who has gone through a lot of suffering myself, I can assure you that there have been many a person who in their unregenerate mind have tried to console me by saying, "Look Dan, it could be worse. Besides, there is always someone out there who is much worst off than you. Just cheer up and pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. In other words, suck it up man!" It was as if they were trying to encourage me to take delight and solace in the fact that some other "sap" was suffering a more horrific fate than I was?
MAY BE HOW THE WORLD OPERATES BUT IT IS DIFINATELY
NOT THE HOPE THAT CHRIST OFFERS THOSE WHO ARE IN HIM!
This is yet another advantage that a believer has over the unbeliever in his suffering, HOPE, and that hope is this. There is ONE who has suffered the WHOLE wrath of God, One who has undergone every hardship that you and I will ever go through and stands ready to succor us. Though His Passion on earth has past, yet His compassion is never ending. Who might that be? It is the Lord Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. And He declares to us in Hebrews 4:15,16 "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15,16
It is in considering Jesus and His passion that those who look to Him are helped and encouraged. "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; Who was faithful to Him that appointed him Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. [Hebrews 3:1,2; 12:2,3] As we consider Christ's suffering and cross, any trouble we encounter seems so insignificant. Have we ever resisted unto blood?
OF PART ONE
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In His Name And For His Glory,
THINK ON THESE THINGS - ACT ON THESE THINGS