Question: Dear Sir, I find your web site one of the best on the web. Your research is much like my own. I am in total agreement with the creation and re-creation story that you have laid out. I wish more Christians understood the importance it plays in God's plan.
I am not a scholar at spiritual insight, I have a hard time coping with God's personal plan in my life. I don't know if the devil has a hold of me, or if God is sifting me or if it is pure rotten luck. Actually the answer to the question has already been given. But that doesn't make the course easier. Because the load is more than I could ever mention. But I thank you, for your work it has been more of an aid to me than any minister of the gospel has provided so far.
Response: Thanks so much for your kind comments and encouragement. I am very pleased to learn that these things have been helpful to you. I am also personally very encouraged whenever I hear of believers like yourself bearing up under heavy burdens that would break anyone who was operating without the Spirit of God. This is a real witness to the world, and, believe me, people do see it and take note (even if these instances will not be made known to us personally until that Great Day). As Paul says,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God of compassion and all encouragement, the One who encourages us in all our tribulation so that we in turn may be able to encourage those in all types of tribulation by means of the very encouragement which we ourselves received from God. Because as our sufferings for Christ multiplied in service to you, so through Christ did the encouragement we received multiply to the same degree. So if we are experiencing tribulation, it is to provide you with encouragement and salvation. And if we are being encouraged, it is for the sake of the encouragement you have received, which is now at work in your successful endurance of the same sufferings which we also experienced. And so our hope for you is a solid one, since we know that as you have become partakers of suffering, in the same way will you also become partakers of encouragement.
2nd Corinthians 1:3-7
Christian suffering, sharing the suffering of Jesus Christ above as Paul puts it above, is such an important (and often overlooked) area of the true Christian life. There is a false view abroad that "good Christians" are super-blessed and that means "no suffering". Nothing could farther from the biblical truth. The more closely and earnestly we try to walk with Jesus, the more we can expect the evil one to oppose our efforts (2Tim.3:12). And it is in fact the highest compliment a believer can be paid to be allowed to suffer on Christ's behalf (cf. Acts 5:41). Without the endurance of opposition, there can be no proving of faith, no building of faith, no demonstration of faith. When God allows us to be tested, moreover, a big part of it is to prepare us for other things down the line, more difficult things, often enough. As you make clear in your e-mail, the true Christian life is not for the faint of heart, but for those who truly embrace it, who truly take up the call to follow our Lord wherever He leads no matter what the cost, there is no more blessed experience, no greater joy that shines through the tears.
It is difficult to do justice to this most important topic in a short e-mail such as this, but I would invite you to have a look at the Peter's Epistles series (devoted largely to the issue of Christian suffering). If we try to search for, to find, to follow, and to serve our Master, we are in for some hard knocks. Things do get better as we advance in this Christian life, but they also get harder (the two things are most definitely not mutually exclusive). It is true that we will not be tested "beyond what we can bear" (1Cor.10:13), but that does not mean that we will not from time to time be tried to a very severe degree. Faith requires deep commitment. Hope requires shifting our focus and our desire from this life to the next. Love, love for Him reflected in love for those He has made, requires self-sacrifice, a denial of self as we pick up our cross and follow Him (Matt.16:24). None of this is easy, and there is a false sense of security that has settled upon much of the visible "Church" of our Laodicean day which falsely suggests that a lukewarm and double-minded "commitment" will be able to withstand the terrible period of testing to come (Rev.3:14:22 - see the upcoming Part 2 of the Coming Tribulation series).
Finally, I also want to commend you for your pursuit of the truth through conscientious study of the Word of God. There is really no other way to grow up, no other way to draw closer to God, no other way to put down deep roots, send up strong shoots, and produce a worthy crop for our Lord.
Again, I much appreciate your comments. Here are some other links I hope will be encouraging to you:
On the Firing Line: Encouragement in Christian Trials
Fighting the Good Fight of Faith.
Faith and Encouragement in the midst of Fiery Trials.
Encouragement, Isaiah 6:11-13, and the Hope of Repentance.
Waiting on God's Timing
In need of encouragement.
Feeling desperate and alone.
The Peter Series: Coping with Personal Tribulation
Yours in Jesus Christ,