“But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!”
Isn’t it good to know that Paul suffered pain and tribulations his life, as we still do today? Praise God for His Sovereign plan, even when we don’t understand it!
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (II Corinthians 12:7-9 NKJV)
The weather today, in my neck of the woods, was just beautiful. It was in the low 70s, sunny, with only a few of those little “wispy” clouds to just break up the blue sky. In fact, this evening, even now at nearly 10:30, has been just great. Yet the last several hours my old friend Arthur has been informing me that rain is on the way.
I have arthritis in a couple of my joints but the last several months my wrist has bothered me more than it ever has and more than any other place I have it. A few years ago I slipped on the ice on our back deck and fractured my left wrist: that hurt. The pain that it has caused me lately has been, it seems, much worse than the injury though.
Knowing how much the original injury hurt and how much the after effects hurt, I just can’t imagine how much pain our Savior suffered having spikes driven through His wrists and ankles. I’d never have volunteered to break my wrist or ankle; He willing allowed to be nailed to a rough cut timber cross, for you and for me. And that is only a very small part of what He suffered in our stead.
When was the last time you considered, I mean really pondered upon, just those last hours of His life and all He suffered? If you are like me, probably not often enough or long enough. Just think, while we were still enemies to God, Christ Jesus loved us to death, literally. As the old hymn says “O! What a Savior!”.
I read about this event that was held last year in New York City. I don’t recall all the specifics but in general it went something like this:
Folks were encouraged to bring in slips of paper with their “bad memories” from 2008 written on them. They would then take turns running them through a giant, industrial shredder, eating up those bad memories. It seems like bank and retirement statements were some of the top items to be “fed to shred”. But I also recall things like “cancer” and other diseases being included, as well as a few relationship items.
I suppose it is true that we all long to rid ourselves of these “bad memories” and painful events in our lives. And to a degree I don’t think it is bad to want that or even if we can, when possible, do so. But maybe there are also some good things to come from these sorts of things from time to time? Paul had something he wished to “shred”; God to him that His grace was sufficient and in Paul’s weakness God’s greatness was manifested (2 Cor. 12:7-10). He didn’t remove Paul’s thorn but gave him the grace to live with it.
Our own problems effect us more and more as we continue to dwell upon them. They can cause difficulties in our lives in a multitude of ways: with our families, our friends, at work, at social events. But worse of all, if we continue to dwell on them they will inevitably cause problems in our most important relationship: the one with our Lord and Savior. How thankful we ought to be that we have a way to “shred” these things: by casting them upon Jesus and trusting in His provision and grace.
1 Peter 5:7 “[Cast] all your care upon [the Lord], for He cares for you.”