In his book "Where Is God When It Hurts?", Philip Yancey tells about Claudia, a beautiful newlywed who discovered that she had Hodgkin’s disease. One of her greatest challenges in coping with her trial was presented by her host of well-meaning friends who came to the hospital to see her. One woman, whom Claudia described as the most spiritual in her church, came often to read aloud from books about praising God. Her speeches to Claudia routinely sounded like this: Claudia, you need to come to the place where you can say, “God, I love You for making me suffer like this. It is Your will. You know the best for me. And I just praise You for loving me enough to allow me to experience this. In all things, including this, I give thanks.” Claudia said that as she would ponder these words, her mind would be filled with gruesome visions of God: She imagined a figure in the shape of a troll, big as the universe, who delighted in squeezing helpless humans between his fingernails, pulverizing them with his fists, dashing them against sharp stones. The figure would keep torturing these humans until they cried out, “God, I love You for doing this to me!” The whole idea repulsed her, and Claudia knew that she could never worship or love a God like that.3 When James tells us to consider it all joy when we fall into various kinds of trials, he is not counseling us as Claudia’s friend did. To consider it all joy in the midst of our trials is to respond with a deliberate, intelligent appraisal of our situation. - from "What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do" - Dr. David Jeremiah.
In this book, which is a study of the book of James, some really hard but necessary thoughts and actions are mentioned.
I will be the first to admit that I have royally failed this whole thing all my life before Jesus.
I have never thanked Him for the rough spots in my life. Have never thanked Him for the pain or the sorrow. Never thanked Him enough altogether.
Thank Jesus for suffering? Are you serious? Read that excerpt again. I personally have heard of people who, when faced with imminent death in the hospital, had finally came to a place of joy in their suffering.
We are all a people who want pain and sorrow to not be a part of our lives. We have some mistaken notion that God is there to bring peace, love and prosperity. To take away all sadness and pain and sorrow. That's not what we read in James. Consider it all joy...wow. it's a leap, a necessary one to find peace in Jesus.
We will go through a great many things in life. It's not all good and was never going to be. The early Church faced far more trials and tribulations than we come close to today.
I am a work in progress. All Christians are. Nobody breathing air has arrived as far as achieving all that Jesus is doing in this life. They are all part of His Plan and purpose to reach others for Christ. They are to be growing in Christ Jesus. They are to be useful to Jesus. Then they go home. THERE they are still only mostly done. We who die in Christ haven't yet received our glorified bodies. There's no sin present in Heaven. There, Jesus wipes away every tear. We see things differently in Heaven. We see and might get told the truth about people we love vs and care about that we could never be told on Earth.
In the here and now we can be comforted by the Spirit of God. But quite frankly we are never promised, and all who claim to be Preachers who say otherwise are liars, a perfect life of peace and happiness and prosperity.
I used to be very upset about how my body is. I was born with many abnormalities. I really sought out from God as to why. I struggled for a very long time to understand why. I was eventually brought to the passage about a 40 plus year old man who was brought to Jesus to be healed. He was asked, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born this way. Jesus replied that it was neither this man nor his parents, but rather that the works of God would be manifested in him.
Sin didn't necessarily create me the way that I am physically. It had a hand in it but it wasn't fully to blame.
If I had been born in any other time I would have probably not lived long. But, again, God, in His infinite mercy, had me born in such a time as this. When I could find comfort and enough healing to bring Him Honor and Glory through my sufferings.
People really do get it wrong in life to think it's so horrible to die. Dying isn't a horrible thing. Dying without Jesus is the most horrifying thing imaginable. Unless you come to Christ you will spend eternity in torment apart from God. In the eventual lake of fire at the end of all judgment, you face eternal separation from God. Sorrow on a scale that you cannot begin to imagine now. People, all people, will see Jesus for who He is on that final judgment day. They will see Him for who He is and will see Him as He is in all His glory. They will understand what it is they rejected.
I, although limited in this life, have a part in God's Plan to reach people for Christ. He has given me a job to do that only I was given to do. I will always cherish the book "90 Minutes in Heaven". In this very real story of a Pastor who was brought through some horrific things in recovering from a car accident, God was using him every step of his recovery to reach people for Christ.
We, no matter who you are, will never have the corner of the market on suffering. How we react, how we respond to it, tells all whom it is we believe in.
I am hoping that this helps someone today. I only began reading that book by Dr. Jeremiah yesterday and already it's been a shot to my heart as to how I need to respond to the things God allows in my life.
Look at the people Jesus healed, look at how they reacted to Him. You have a choice before you to whine and complain or to praise God in your storm. James, part of the Word of God, says to consider it all joy. I will struggle with this as well as all of you, but, I know it's what I need to do.
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