Monday, May 18, 2009

"Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda, Part Five - Nothing is Wasted"

Have you ever felt that the "fire" you or your family members are going through are only for the purpose of destruction? We have a lying enemy who is counting on us to believe exactly that.

Lie # 5 - We believe that our suffering that we have had a part in causing is wasted in this life and the life to come.

We ask ourselves, “What possible “good” can come from my or my family members’ mistakes, failures, embarrassments or difficulties in this life or in eternity?" We hear what the Bible has to say about suffering for Christ or sharing in His sufferings as only relating to a narrow band of suffering that we could label as “spiritual.” I think Paul Billheimer says it much better than I could ever say it.

Mr. Billheimer is a writer who has greatly impacted me with his perspective on suffering. He is now with the Lord. I don’t think he would mind if I generously quote from his book, “Don’t Waste Your Sorrows.” (Pg. 59 - inexpensive used copies of this 1977 book are available through Amazon ,by the way.)

“We usually think of the afflictions which Paul says are “working for us an eternal weight of glory” as probably in the last twenty-five years more people have suffered serve persecution and martyrdom for Christ than in any similar period of history. Some of us may yet be called upon to prove our faith and love by accepting a martyr’s crown. But at this point, in the United States, the adversity to which most believers are subjected is not the danger of martyrdom or other types of persecution practiced in Communist lands. Today the American believer’s afflictions are mostly physical, financial, or in the area of personality conflicts. Is this type of suffering included in “these light afflictions” which Paul said are working for us? In this what he meant when he said, if we suffer we shall also reign” and “if so be that we suffer, that we may be glorified together?

The answer may be that it is not always the character of the affliction which determines its spiritual value but rather the length of its continuation and one’s reaction to it. Whether the suffering is for and with Christ may be determined not so much by its nature and severity as by the quality of one’s spirit in which it is faced. For example, to live sweetly with a brute of a man, or a contentious faithless woman, or an ungrateful, contemptuous wayward son or daughter, or to live self-sacrificially with a helpless, hopeless invalid for years or for a lifetime, may provide the opportunity to develop martyr strength and a deep dimension of love as truly as severe persecution for Christ’s sake.

All affliction is intended to drive us to God. It is intended to work a fuller submission, a more utter devotion, an increasing patience, a greater beauty of spirit, a more selfless love toward both God and man. When it accomplishes this, then it may be classified as suffering with Christ and for His sake because it has enabled Him to achieve His end and purpose in that one. It may require a lifetime of dealing in discipline and chastisement to produce the true martyr spirit. When suffering of any character is allowed to work in one a deeper dimension of agape love, is it not indeed “suffering with Christ?"

We can take heart! Nothing we go through in our family life needs to be wasted in this life OR in the life to come!

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Anonymous said...

Great and profound post Jamie. We all suffer in different ways. But do we 'suffer well'? Do we suffer and remain faithful to Christ? Do we trust God in all things? We need to be faithful in all circumstances (and trials). From my experience, this is only possible by God's grace.


Gene said...

My pride determines the degree to which I nurse this lie. If I love the Gospel, if I love Christ above myself, I will submit to God's intended purpose for me (Rom. 8:29ff) irrespective of the means by which it is accomplished. There are passages that make this difficult to swallow on the surface (1 Peter for instance); but difficult insomuch as I am ignorant (or arrogant!). We will be sanctified and God will be glorified if we truly belong to Christ (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:28,29ff) thank God! My "job" (realizing that God's grace precedes all our efforts) is to be responsible before Christ; consequently, I should avoid suffering due to my own foolishness and/or sin and I should certainly not sin that God's Grace may increase (Rom. 6:1). The more I focus on "me", the more powerful this lie becomes as embracing it asserts my sovereignty over Christ.