Wow - this sure is a difficult passage to read, let alone apply to my life! How about you? Would you say that you are content, even in difficult circumstances? I can easily say that I am beyond content when things are going my way. You know the kind. For me it is when I wake up to the smell of a cup of coffee, made perfectly to my liking (ok, I'm spoiled and my DH has this for me most every morning) and the kids have had a *silent*, peaceful nights' sleep and awaken with smiles and hugs. My DH and DDs love to do whatever it is I suggest, there is peaceful music (classical piano is my choice) playing softly in the background and the morning sun is beaming in the windows. I even feel good - no swollen feet or knees, no headache, no feeling dizzy, lots of energy and to top it off, I even feel skinny. What a day this is!! It is EASY to be content when it is all rainbows and sunshine.
But what about when it is a storm of life? Something difficult to face? The death of a loved one? A bad doctor's report? A disobedient child? Hurtful patterns of abuse, bad choices and pain in the lives of those we love the most? A chronic injury, sinful pattern, illness or symptom(s) that is a near constant struggle. Are you, or better yet, am I, content? Can we take it a step further and be thankful? Oh me, oh my! This is difficult.
Some things to remember as we suffer (and we do suffer, right?).
* This world is temporary and passing away. For those of us who love the Lord and have accepted Christ as our Savior will spend eternity, not 50 years, not 80 years, not even 100 years - but forever!
- Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
- James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
- Hebrews 13:5 "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee"
- Lamentations 3:22-23 Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
* Think of those who do not have a personal relationship with Jesus and faith to know that God is in control. I wonder how they even get out of bed each day? They call upon statues that were made by man's own hands that have no power to help them. These people suffer worse than we do (as Believers) because they do not have the assurance of a saving faith. They desperately need the good news of the gospel. (reference Psalm 115) ** See footnote **
So despite our sufferings, what we need to focus on, and show the world, is that we love because Christ loved us. We have the power to forgive others who have hurt us because He forgives us for all of our sins. We can continue to find ways to serve even when enduring physical pains because Christ was sweating drops of blood as He anticipated Calvary - yet He continued on. We can continue to love that unloveable person in our lives because Christ died for us while we were yet sinners and an enemy of God.
So continue on. Fight the good fight.
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. [Philippians 1:6]
** If you do not know if your name will be written in the Lamb's book of Life, please ask me or someone else who can answer these questions. This is the most important decision of your life.