Monday, August 8, 2011

The Lot of the Righteous

Someone once asked C.S. Lewis, a Christian author, "Why do the righteous suffer?" He replied, "Why not? They're the only ones that can take it."

Suffering for the cause of Christ is a touchy subject, and doesn't receive a whole lot of attention these days from a lot of pulpits. For whatever reason, suffering has become something that would rather be pushed aside for those "radicals."

Now the very nature of this topic is vast and covers a lot of territory, but let's just look at a few things.

Don't take every hardship to mean that you're suffering for God.
Now that may sound a little strange, but let me clarify with an example: if people are constantly avoiding you because you're an obnoxious jerk, it doesn't mean that you're being rejected for God's sake. You're being rejected because you have no clue how to be humble and gracious. When you suffer for Christ, it comes as a result of following the Scriptures and the voice of God without any regard for what the world has to say about it.

Suffering for Christ will come.
It is no coincidence that almost every apostle who followed Jesus died horrible, gruesome deaths. They lived lives of poverty, torture, and hardship, and they knew that that was the life that they were guaranteed. Philippians 1:29 says that "it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake." In other words, a life of the pursuit of Christ will be a life of trials.

Times of hardship bring us closer to God.
I believe that God uses times of pain and suffering to give us a reason to come to Him. I'm not saying that this is always the case, but think about it: How much more do we desire comfort than in the times that we are uncomfortable? And considering the fact that one of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to comfort, it's safe to say that God can use these times to say, "Hey, I see what's goin' on. I'm here for you." And in those moments, we find one of the most amazing experiences of joy. It's hard to explain, but even when He doesn't fix whatever circumstance we're dealing with, just the fact that He's holding us brings unspeakable joy and comfort.

Pain is relative.
Paul says, in 1 Cor. 4:17, "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison," C.S. Lewis's above quote points out the beginning of this idea. We are able to handle hardship because we know what's waiting for us. Let me put it this way: if I decide to build a house, there will be many problems and struggles to do so along the way. But the reward for my efforts far exceeds my struggles.

So let's not try to wiggle out of every pain and trial, but let's use the time to find out what God is accomplishing for that season of our lives.


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