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 here, here 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.…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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