Posts Tagged ‘suffering’

Joy in Trials

One year ago I was in ministry serving at a high level in a large mega church. There was a point of my life that I would flash that resume around to others to gain approval. Today it means absolutely nothing to me anymore. This past year I have been through one of the most turbulent, trial filled periods of my life.  Twelve months full of uncertainty, accusations, relationship issues, brokeness, etc. Yet I can say that this was also twelve months of the most spiritual growth that I have ever experienced. In this time God landed me in a gospel rich church, gave me a community to grow in, put me through both a break-up and marriage to an amazing woman, and used both old and new friendships to refine me for his purposes. Even though I’ve been through the fire, I am able to smile and say that I am excited to see what God has in store next.

The biggest thing I have learned about is God’s sovereignty. God is huge. I have been learning to keep an eternity perspective on life and not live in the circumstances of the moment. I am more and more embracing my trials and looking at them with joy and as teachable moments. In India, I saw God do huge things in a spiritually dark country through the faith and prayers of a team of Christians there. God has used my trials to help me see the big overall picture of him using these small difficult moments to develop me into the person he has in store for me.

God has shown me that I need a redeemer. Where I falter is when I give into taking control of situations and God is teaching me to trust him. His plans are better than mine and mine generally never work out my way. Christ is the only way. Even after spending years in the church, I have just recently discovered what the gospel means and what it means to need a Savior. He is my example and my hope.

Grace. I have always struggled with grace. In a world full of finger-pointing, accusations and blame, God gives us grace to let us know who we are in him. God gives us grace so we can find repentance and freedom from our sins. But he also gives us grace so we can model grace to others. This has been a big teaching lesson for me. It’s so easy to blame others when we are hurt. Yet Christ exhibited grace to those that accused and tortured him. He showed grace to those that weren’t perfect. God please continue to teach me about grace as I need it and need to show it to others.

I embraced community for the first time. I’ve always had friends and a large network of people to fellowship with. But to dive into a gospel centered community that I can be transparent with has been something totally new for me. I have never been received with such warmth and hospitality. They have taught me both grace and love. It’s the perfect image of Christ and how he calls us to love one another. The level of honesty and humility shown has really allowed me to have a group of people to see as an example for my own walk in how to treat others.

Tonight I spent my evening with my buddy downloading life over a couple of cigars. I was able to be a part of his life when he gave his life to Christ. In turn, he has been able to be a part of my life during my trials during this past year. He has been encouraged by how God has been working in me during these times and told me how I have been an example to him in his own life. We spent the evening laughing, crying, praying and talking about God. He told me that he didn’t have any theological spiritual wisdom for me. I in turn told him that’s ok because I see Christ when I look at him because of the love he has shown me despite my shortcomings. God put my friend in my life for this moment to be on this journey with me. We both prayed for strength with our trials in the upcoming days and celebrated our excitement to see how God is going to use us both in this next stage of our lives.

Read Full Post »

As easter approaches, I have decided to read each gospel’s accord on the crucifixion as my daily devotion for this week. It is my way of remembering how Christ died and suffered for us. As I have been reading, I came across a piece of paper in my Bible. Awhile back, Dave from my men’s group had ask us to write a little something about why we felt Christ had to suffer for our sins. Was it necessary? Was there any other way? Well.. I don’t remember us ever discussing it, so I thought I’d blog what I came up with. I know there are books and sermons on this topic.. and I hope to do a major study on this sometime.

Isaiah 52:14 “Just as there were many who were appalled at him – his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness…” So fullfilling prophecy is a huge reason Jesus had to suffer. Isaiah predicted years before his crucifixion and the fact that he would suffer.

But Christ had to be an example to all of us. Being a Christ follower means we will all endure hardships. Jesus suffered all through his life. Not only physical sufferings, but spiritual sufferings. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Jesus had the weight of our sins on him at the cross. When God forsake him, Jesus cried out.

It also shows how terrible sin is. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” Yet it is shows God love for us and how he demonstrated that by sending his son to die for us. Romans 5:8 “But God demonstarted his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

He suffered to be the perfect advocate. Hebrews 2:10 “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through  suffering.” Christ was qualified by God to be the one to carry out his redemptive mission. We have Jesus on our side as one who speaks out against those that sin against us.

1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you closer to God. He was put to death in the body, but made alive by the Spirit.”Jesus’ suffering brings us to God. It is so we can approach the throne for mercy and not by our own strength. Only by the strength of Him suffering for us.

God loves us so much. Jesus suffered horribly for us. We take that for granted way too much. He had to suffer for us. He demonstrated the ultimate love for us to an example to us. We are to do the same for our brothers in showing this love (1 John 3:16)

Read Full Post »