"In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness." II Cornithians 11:27
When I read this passage this morning, a slight smile flickered on my face. I thought how this described the cancer journey and the treatments and doctor appointments all endured for the one goal of being cancer-free.
|Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash|
However, Paul here was not describing a life of cancer but his life as an apostle. Yet, I could not help but see the parallels. Jesus Christ presents to every person the cure for the disease of sin which leads to death. The Apostle Paul offered people the cure, but evil would rise up against him to prevent the cure being received. He would endure great suffering in order for another to receive that cure.
In my most selfish and weak moments, I find the hardest concept for me to comprehend is that life here on earth is to be seen as preferred (for a period) to life in heaven with God.
The struggle, if I am honest, is that I no longer want to suffer, whether from physical illness or emotional pain caused by my selfishness or another's words, actions, or attitudes toward me. Don't get me wrong. I'm not suicidal, but I will admit to pondering the point of life if there is nothing but suffering and pain.
I understand the concept of suffering for the name of Christ and the glory that comes from it. God gives the true believer power and grace to endure such sufferings and to actually glory in it. A study in the martyrs over the centuries will demonstrate that.
If I truly love God, then I should see my life here as a blessing and should see the potential, not by my will or hand, but of God's power.
"For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." II Corinthians 4:6-7
Here on earth, we can glorify God in our struggle. Again, it is not about us, but about God.
In II Corinthians, Paul goes on to describe the trouble he had: persecution, perplexation, being cast down, being whipped, thrown into prison, being shipwrecked, suffering perils in every place and under every circumstance, and even physical ailments.
"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience, and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." Romans 5:2-5
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
Sometimes it is hard to see the glory of God, but that is what we are to look for. The hope that is eternal life actually lives in the present as well as the future, because the Holy Spirit is in us.
"The hope" lives in us when we seek God's glory even in times of trouble, pain, sorrow. But the crux is if we don't seek it, we can't find it and can't experience it.
When we are seeking to worship God even in our times of pain, suffering, trouble, hardship, etc. we will discover God's glory and when we see His glory, we are living in the present hope of eternal life.
God is not bound by time, what He says will happen He sees happening in His now. So, you can trust what He says is and will be true. When He says, in present tense:
"And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" Ephesians 2:6
we, by the power of His glory and the presence of the Holy Spirit are indeed seated in heavenly places while our physical bodies are still on earth. Our heaven on earth that enabled Paul to say:
"...but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day, For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Corinthians 4:16-18
When we worship God in spirit and in truth, we dwell in His presence. In His presence all the cares of the world diminish to the point of appearing extinguished.
We can only experience this power of God's glory while here on earth worshiping Him. For it is His power over darkness and the ilk that comes in darkness.
When we worship Him, in the safety and care of His Presence, we can surrender our weaknesses to Him and enjoy Him for the great and holy God Almighty that He is.
Why live a life of suffering? To experience the power of God's glory here on earth.