What do these great men have in common? They all suffered in one way or another for their faith, and they all suffered for the far off joy of redemption that Christ brought in his death and resurrection.
When we come through spiritual trials in our life, or even physical trials such as disease or death, we often wonder why God would let it happen to us. So I have a question for you–if you could right now travel back to see your younger self, would you tell them to avoid a lot of the things that have brought you pain in your life as you got older? Would you? Of course you would. The idea of experiencing pain is not one we like to think about, much less want to go through. But God uses our pain. Do you remember what Joseph said about the evil his brothers meant to do to him? He said that what his brothers did, they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.
You may find this hard to believe, but for those of you here who have never met me in person, which is pretty much all of you, if you knew even the fraction of what I’ve gone through myself in my past and how much it has defined me and made me who I am today, you would definitely believe me when I say I wouldn’t trade any of my pain for anything in the world, because at the right moment, when my pain was at it’s strongest, that’s when Jesus came swooping in to show me just who and what He could be to me. And now, when others ask why I’m joyful all the time and how come it’s so hard to get me into a down and depressed spirit, I regale them with how I was at that point, but that Christ brings me the ultimate joy and laughter in my life. Perhaps my next post will be my testimony so you can understand this one 🙂 You know what? That will be my next post. So many people think that God is unapproachable in the Christian faith. When I hear this I envision people being like Isaiah 6–they see how glorious and powerful God is and they are just forced to their knees in fear of what He could do to them, but like Jesus says, God can take away their pain. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus gives this invitation:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
So what does this have to do with extreme suffering? Your extreme suffering can point you to Christ at the right time, and at that point, you WILL realize just how amazing, joyful, loving, compassionate, and understanding Christ can be. Remember, Jesus was both man and God, He was tempted like we were and so He understands what suffering is–I mean, look at what He went through in His crucifixion for you and you’ll understand His extreme suffering–and it was all for the JOY of saving YOU. Think about this–and I firmly believe this–when Jesus was going through His whole trial and crucifixion, He was thinking about all the people His death would save from the hell. Me, you, and everyone else. Jesus stepped off His heavenly throne to do that for you, so my prayers for all you who are currently struggling spiritually and physically is this–I am there with you in spirit, praying for you as you go through it all.
To end, I’d like you to just listen to these two songs. They’re both from my favorite bands–Sonicflood and Red. I believe they speak to what I’ve just written about here!