“Devotions From the Heart”
“God’s Mercies for Suffering Saints”
The Balm of God in Mercy:
“They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated of whom the world was not worthy–wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” Hebrews 11:37-38
I truly believe that the subject matter of Hebrews 11 includes one of the most important lessons we can learn as Christians. It is a “given” if you are a Christian that “you will suffer” and not only “suffer tribulation” in the world and with unbelievers as you live and move among them, but also you will suffer of your own people, family, church and worst of all, sufferings of your own sin and making. To understand Scripture rightly is to understand that suffering is part and parcel of the Christian life, not as some “evil” that comes upon us because of sin (although we can have suffering as a result of our sin) but rather it is God’s tool to conform us to Christ and for us to remember that we are aliens and pilgrims in a sin-cursed and dying world. This world is not our home and God makes a sure work of dealing with it in our lives so that we do not “love it” so much and are so comfortable in it that we have no use for eternity or to rejoice at His coming. If we truly understand this doctrine, we will long for Christ to come, for the heavens to open and for His appearance and our transport to our Heavenly home to live and reign with Him in person forever. We should desire to “press on” in our running of the race of life with Him in our full view. We are to be pressing on with due diligence to make our calling and election sure, to “put off” the old man and his ways and to “put on the new man” which has been created in holiness; not desiring the “things of this world that will perish” but rather desire those things that are eternal. This is to be our mindset so that in this world of sin and woe, we can accomplish all of those things that Christ has given us to do knowing that we have the sure reward of Christ in heaven. We are confident in our sufferings knowing that He likewise suffered, yet without sin, for us so that we can be and are conformed to His image. As He says, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the coming glory to be revealed in us” [Rom 8:18] and thus we have great expectation for our future glory with Christ. This is beyond our human understanding but what rejoicing this gives to our hearts and minds. We are redeemed adopted sons and daughters of Christ and as He and our brethren before us have suffered, we shall too in this life of sin and woe. We are comforted because we have the Consolation and consolation that we will be changed into glorious spiritual bodies, without sin, suffering, pain or remembrance of those things that so hurt, haunt or trouble us now. “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth. And the things before will not be remembered, nor come to mind.” [Isaiah 65:1] So then, our suffering is a “light affliction” a “vapor” for a moment in time and we have a glorious inheritance in heaven. This should bring great joy to our hearts and increase our faith by believing that He as our Forerunner has prepared the way, has gone before and He will keep us until the end. All fears should fall away with these promises no matter what trial of suffering we encounter or will encounter. Though it is “weeping for a night” now, ” joy comes in the morning.” O what a wonderful day of joy that will be!
For those that have suffered bad theology regarding their suffering not being of God, God’s Word is truth and teaches in truth regardless of man’s lack of understanding of sin and suffering in Scripture and in this life. Suffice it to say as true biblical Reformed believers, we believe God’s Word in all of its teachings and the doctrine of perseverance of the saints and the sufferings of the flesh in our pilgrimage. We are “perfect” in Christ as one’s covered with His righteousness and our sins, as I have said before, and the Scripture supports, have been forgiven and removed from past, present and in the future to be remembered no more. They are all covered by Christ in His salvation to us. We are to “walk” in that holiness that we have been given in Christ and to continually put off those sins that so easily beset us, confessing them and receiving Christ’s forgiveness in them daily. We will suffer in this life and as we know, God says “our steps are marked out” by Him for His glory and our good. We do not know what tomorrow may bring, what trials, sufferings, tribulations or sorrows but we know Who is bringing that tomorrow and whatever it includes, whether good, bad, evil or as a result of our own mistakes or making, God is sovereign in them and works them together for our good. Suffering is the badge of honor we wear in this life because our Savior wore it. Thanks be God that He has given us the opportunity to wear it for Him.
“Beloved, do not be astonished at the fiery trial which is to try you, as though a strange thing happened to you, but rejoice according as you are partakers of Christ’s suffering, so that when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.” 1 Peter 4:12-13
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” 2 Timothy 2:12
“I have spoken these things to you so that you might have peace in Me. In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
“Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls in well-doing, as to a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:19
Look to the cross dear sisters and get into God’s Word and arm yourselves daily for the tasks that are before you. You are guaranteed suffering, sorrow and tribulation in this life but you are also equipped by His Holy Spirit and His ever-loving watchcare over you to strengthen you and help you in everything. Call upon Him as He is near, even within you, and therefore you can, most assuredly, persevere in sufferings and rejoice!
Additional Scripture Reading:
James 1:2-4; Psalms 10; 18; 57:3-4; 6; Acts 17:28; I Cor.15:58
Copyright ©2004-2015, TheologyGirl-ReformedWomen, The JoyPals Network, All Rights Reserved. This devotional is an excerpt from my ReformedWomen Bible-Book Study “A Steadfast Heart” and article, April 2007.