Many times Christians will go through hardships, persecutions and problems and they think something must be wrong, either with them or that may be God has forgotten to be gracious to them. Many people will collapse and fall into despair at the first sign of pain and heartbreak. Many will give up at the doorway, at the threshold of the beginning of God’s purpose of transformation in their lives. They will want to lie down and die of self-pity asking, why did God let this happen? Many in the Christian community will aid them with their pity while validating their dismay of God. Some will help usher them to their bed of sorrow,as they give up on life and God. This however, is not God’s way or how He has told us to meet the difficult challenges of life.
Jesus comes with pierced hands and feet and calls us to enter into the fellowship of His suffering so that others may live. Jesus who knew no sin became sin that we may become righteous. We are told to consider Jesus who endured the contradiction, conflict, denial and disagreement of sinners against Himself. We should consider His life so that we do not become fearful, weary and faint in our own minds.
Jesus despised the shame and the death of the cross but He endured it. He went through it all because He knew His suffering would set mankind free from sin and that was the joy that motivated Him. The joy before Him was that He would be bringing us into the family of God and when He was finished He would be seated at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 12:1b-3 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. NIV
True believers in Christ will suffer persecution and disdain of this world. However, most will not suffer or battle to the point of death as they strive against the wrongs and injustices of others. We are told to persevere, to persist and to continue in this race, this conflict or battle of life that has been marked out and reserved for us. We are told not to think it is a strange thing when our faith is being tested through trials and troubles but consider and think on Jesus. Jesus despised the shame of the cross but He rejoiced over the outcome and the end results.
We too are told to rejoice when we go through challenges and trials because we are partakers of Christ’s suffering and the end is our testimony of God’s goodness. God will use the pain of our rejection and betrayal for His purpose, to draw those who are lost to Himself, that they too may receive eternal life. For this we give thanks that God counted us worthy to suffer in the fellowship of Christ, so others my come to know Him.
1 Peter 1:6-7 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. NIV
Far too many Christians refuse to die to self, self-pity, self-centeredness and it is their pride that sits on the throne of their hearts and not Christ. Baptism is a symbolic act of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. When we accept Jesus as our Saviour we are dying to our own self- interest. As true believers are called to be crucified with Christ, to die to self and our lives are no longer our own but we are to offer our lives as a living offering and sacrifice to God. Entering into the water representsthe watery grave that receives the old man and the old way of living and the coming up from that watery grave represents our resurrection and a new life in Christ.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. NIV
As an act of our will we all must choose how we will live this God given resurrected life. God has given us all dominion over our lives and we determine how we will use the time we have been given. We will make choices as to how we will live out this life by the actions we take. God created us for His glory, purpose and the work of the Gospel which isGod’s redemptive plan to seek and save those who are lost. As most jobs, work can be hard but it is necessary to accomplish its purpose. Some people would rather skip work or go to sleep on their job but we are call to be part of God’s redemptive plan to seek and to save the lost.
1 Corinthians 6:20 You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. NIV
We are called, to fellowship in the suffering of Christ. Jesus is our example, the One we are to follow. When He was reviled, hated, despised and insulted He did not retaliate or avenge Himself. That is how we are to act when people do us wrong we are to submit the situation to God and let Him settle the matter. No deceit, dishonesty, trickery or fraud was found in Jesus. When He suffered, Jesus did not threaten anyone but trusted God with the situation. Jesus bore our sins that we could become the righteousness of God. Jesus prayed that we be forgiven because we were ignorant and did not know who He was nor what we were doing.
We too must pray for those who wounds and insults us and we are to intercede to God on their behalf. God is the Master Engineer, He orchestrates situations and circumstances so that we become part of His plan of salvation for those around us. We are to become intercessors praying on the behalf of those who God wants to do a work in their lives. We will bring them before God and the Holy Spirit will lead us into prayer and intercession for them or their needs. We are told not to faint when we go through troubles and trials because they are testing our level of faith. If we get overwhelmed, hurt and become bitter we lose sight of God’s purpose and glory of bringing a soul into the fellowship of Jesus.
Our suffering provokes us into prayer and intercession to God inviting Him to work in that life. God will use His people to pray and to cry out for those who are lost. Our lives are no longer our own and we no longer have a private life. God has purchased our lives for His purpose and His plan of redemption. Our lives should be open testimonies to the world of who God is on earth.