Monday, April 10, 2017

A Reward for Suffering??





Welcome back to my series on trials and suffering.   If you would like to check out previous posts in the series where I discuss being in a season of God's Discipline, how Christ shares in our suffering and God's activity in our suffering, you can find them herehere and here.  :-)

This week we consider the reward of suffering.

I don't know about you, but the weeks before a big vacation, I seem to become more stressed than the entire year combined!  I end up borrowing trouble with a slew of "what ifs?".  What if the weather isn't good?  What if I get sick before vacation?  What if I get sick on vacation?  What if something happens, we can't go and we end up losing our deposit?

Have I succeeded in stressing you out just reading these silly "what ifs"?

And then there is the prep work just to be in a position to go on vacation.  Making sure all my job responsibilities are taken care of and will be executed without a hitch while I'm away.

Of course, for a list-maker like myself, there is the ceremonial writing up of a plethora of lists from packing to pre-vacation shopping, and then proceeding to pack and shop.

Here's a biggy.  Making sure the house is spotless before we leave.  I remember my neighbor from years ago telling me that she had the same penchant for cleaning that I do prior to vacation to which her husband responded, "I see we are getting the house all tidy for the burglars!"  lol.

And then there is the mad rush to the airport, the obsessive checking and rechecking that the airline tickets and other important paperwork are in possession.

Once we arrive at the destination airport, there is the rent-a-car pick-up followed by driving in a strange area to our final destination.

I literally don't let go and relax until everything is unpacked and we are finally settled into our condo.

And as you can see, I have a lot of self-created stress to let go of!

Please tell me I'm not the only nervous Nelly who stresses about every little thing before a vacation.  Ahhh!

I've often described Heaven as being the ultimate vacation, a never-ending time in Paradise.

One of the definitions of vacation is:  the action of leaving something once previously occupied.

Would you like a vacation from this world?

I'm sure, like me, many of you are ready to leave behind this sin-sick world and your own sinfulness for your new Heavenly body to live forever in the presence of your Lord and Savior.

But if I go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. 
So what shall I choose? I do not know. I am torn between the two. 
I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. 
But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.…
Philippians 1:23-24

Yet for as long as the Lord ordains He has called us to Glorify Him by being about His work here on earth.

I confess, I can create a lot of needless stress, without even leaving my head!!  I'm able to hold my attitudes in check while in public or in the workplace, for the most part, but regrettably, they all come erupting out at the end of the day when I  dump all my frustrations onto my husband with a flurry of complaining.  Not good for my body and mind where I've harbored the stress of the day, and definitely not good for my husband who has to hear about it.

If you can relate to anything I've confessed here, there is a promise we can hold onto.  A promise that comes with a reward - a great and incredible reward...

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.
Colossians 3:23-24a

What if we conducted our lives here on earth with the same forethought and preparation that we do for a much needed vacation.

A preparation of our minds.  Because, after all, sin begins in the mind.  When our minds are aligned with Christ's, our attitudes will pour forth into our actions testifying that we are trusting in God's faithfulness in every aspect of our lives.

A Christ-like attitude not only helps us in the day to day nuisances and frustrations, but most especially helps us when we are enduring severe trials and suffering.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial,
for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life,
 which God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

And how do we remain steadfast?  By daily seeking Him, spending time in the Word, memorizing and claiming His great and many promises, and most especially, remembering the reward that awaits all of us who are in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action,
 and being sober-minded, 
set your hope fully on the grace 
that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:13

God has not left us here on earth to fend for ourselves, but is with us every single step of the way.  If only we would allow that to fuel our courage in sufferings rather than allow our sufferings to discourage us.

Be strong and courageous. 
Do not fear or be in dread of them, 
for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. 
He will not leave you or forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

The sufferings, sent to us by a loving Father, are seen by Him as precious, to test the genuineness of our faith, a faith that HE is the author and perfecter of.  The genuineness of our faith is the result of God's faithfulness.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, 
he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 
 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,  so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, 
you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 
 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:3-9

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,
despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Because of Jesus own suffering and death, though we walk through many trials in this life, we too will one day experience the same Heavenly joy that Christ did.  Follow Jesus's example, keep that joy set before you when you endure suffering, for in so doing, you will testify to your own heart the love of Christ.

I want you to think about your  most amazing and relaxing vacation.  Conjure up those scenes and peaceful, happy feelings in your mind.

Now, think about Heaven and all that God promises you will experience in His presence.  It will make the memories of your best vacation seem like nothing compared to what Jesus has prepared for you!

What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him
1 Corinthians 2:9

Hold on to that promise dear one when you experience trials and suffering.  Keep your heart and mind focused on your Heavenly reward - Jesus Himself and the Glories of Paradise.  Oh what joy will fill your soul.

May we say with the Apostle Paul...

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time
are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18


You might find me on these link-ups:
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26 comments:

  1. I love your list making. I have pre-made lists for different kinds of vacations. My kids used to tease me but they still asked for the list.

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    Replies
    1. Hello fellow list maker! ;-)

      Thanks so much for stopping by Maree!

      Delete
  2. Great blog post!! Thank you for sharing.. Please feel free to tune into our #LiveStreams every Tuesday mornings at 9:30 AM here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ellelusa/videos/

    Blessings sister in Christ!

    RM Sorg
    Ellel Ministries USA

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words and the invite to your livestream.

      Delete
  3. "And how do we remain steadfast? By daily seeking Him, spending time in the Word, memorizing and claiming His great and many promises, and most especially, remembering the reward that awaits all of us who are in Christ Jesus." AMEN, Karen. When our focus is kept on Christ, we can have joy and be at peace even though there are many things to stress us. Like you, I can tend to pile the stress on by thinking of what ifs. How much better to trust in the One who holds us in his hands! Blessings to you! I'm your neighbor at #TeaAndWord.

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    1. Gayl, Thanks so much for sharing in the conversation and for stopping by.

      Blessings to you on this Good Friday.

      Delete
  4. That verse at the end from Romans is such a great reminder that when things aren't going as we planned, and have even become very painful, that this is not the end. There is much more ahead that we can be confident in Christ Jesus!

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    Replies
    1. Karen, Amen!

      Thanks for stopping by! :-)

      Blessings to you on this Good Friday.

      Delete
  5. Thank you for this precious encouragement, dear friend. I do so hope your own suffering has lessened by now. I am praying for you and trusting God to bless and encourage you in your trials. They are producing sweet fruit and precious lessons, and I can't thank you enough for sharing those nuggets with us here. Sending you love and hugs!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sweet Friend, My sciatica is doing better, but I ended up with a flu like sickness for over a week now. It seems I wrote about suffering and now I can put into practice all that I learned while doing this series.

      I am starting to feel better and am sitting out on my deck enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to spending time in the Scriptures in a few moments to meditate on our Lord's sufferings on this precious Good Friday afternoon.

      Cheryl, your sweet friendship just means so much to me. You are truly one of my greatest cheerleaders in Christ and I so appreciate you.

      Blessings to you and may your family be blessed abundantly.

      Happy Resurrection Day!

      Delete
  6. I’m laughing as I relate to everything you’re saying about prepping for a trip. Many lists; worry about sickness and weather; cleaning the house…. My oldest daughter is preparing for a trip tonight and I see her doing the same things. I’m praying she will be able to relax and enjoy her vacation once she gets on the plane! We definitely create needless stress on ourselves. So grateful for the promise of reward. Thanks for this encouragement, Karen.

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    1. Lisa, I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Haha!

      You are very welcome!

      Happy Resurrection Day!

      Delete
  7. Karen, it is good for me to be reminded to set my mind on my eternal hope and away from the worries of this world! Thank you!

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    1. Amy, Thank you so much for sharing your words here. I appreciate it!

      Happy Resurrection Day!

      Delete
  8. Great post. I to am a list maker I have several notebooks filled with them. My youngest Daughter is the same way list for everything (she still has her list for FFA and Cheer trips when she was in school). Thanks for linking up with Literacy Musing Mondays hop! Hope to see you next week. And have a great week,
    Connie

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    Replies
    1. Hello fellow list maker! :-)

      Awe. That's so neat that your daughter saves her lists.

      You are welcome! I'll be there. :-)

      Delete
  9. Love your analogy, Karen! Like Jesus, we must keep our eyes on the prize. :)

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    1. Lyli, Thank you for your kind words.

      Thanks for stopping by! :-)

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  10. Definitely is a woman thing to think always prepared even if not heading for vacation or whatever. In my younger years, I was good at keeping any list in my head, but now I do tend to rely on pencil and paper. lol
    The tribulations seem like a mountain at times, but throughout life, I've found that in the end there is meaning at times of why I had to go through a tribulation. :)

    Peabea@Peabea Scribbles

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    Replies
    1. Pea Bea, True, we women do like to have our ducks in a row. ;-)

      It is such a blessing when the Lord gives us that hindsight view.

      Thanks for joining in the conversation. :-)

      Delete
  11. Karen, I love every verse you picked for this topic and am so glad you shared it on the #Sundaythoughts link up!

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    1. Jamie, Praise God! His Words are indeed wonderful!

      And I'm so glad you stopped by here. :-)

      Delete
  12. Karen - I am glad to hear I am not the only one that obsesses about the house being cleaned before we leave for vacation... I don't even know why, I do because it usually ins't that clean while we are home.... LOL Thanks for linking up with me at #TuneInThursday last week, I sure hope to see you again this week

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    Replies
    1. Debbie, Lol. I know, me either! lol.

      You are welcome! You will! :-)

      Delete
  13. Thanks for sharing this timely word at Booknificent Thursday on Mommynificent.com this week!
    Tina

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Thank you for taking the time to comment.