Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Suffering and Endurance

Continuing on through the Community Bible Experience, I am reading through chapter 13 of 2 Corinthians today (although at the time of writing this post, I've read through chapter 4).  As I've said before, it really is a blessing to read through these verses without the chapter and verse breaks and read it as a letter rather than text.  Without having the chapter headings, I'm not influenced by what someone else decided was the theme for the verses and just rely on what God is showing me. While I didn't have time to read through the entire reading for the day before writing this post, I saw a big picture through the first four chapters: suffering and endurance.

That is never the topic we like to talk about or experience.  In fact, I'm sure the title of this post will keep several people from even opening the page!  But that's okay, because it is very much a part of walking this life on earth through Christ.  If anyone believes that there will be no suffering once they decide to follow Christ is sorely mistaken and will be bitterly disappointed.  With that said, suffering isn't all we experience in our walk with Christ; we experience peace, joy, love, and so much more!  Paul gives us an idea of why he was so willing to suffer in his journeys and I want to look at the encouragement he gives us from the viewpoint of his own experience.  But keep in mind that this experience is written by someone that relied fully and completely on God to help him through everything.

In 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 (NIV) Paul wrote, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body."  So we first see that the power we have in us is not from ourselves but from God, which then helps us through the suffering we may face.  In fact, Paul wrote several times the fact that we die to ourselves so that the life of Jesus is revealed in us.  How amazing is it that God chooses to use us to reveal the resurrection power of Christ!?

The other verse I want to leave you with is this message of hope that Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV), which is one of my favorite verses:  "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."  I want to remind you that Paul is not making light of what we experience here because by the time he wrote that sentence he had been stoned and threatened and imprisoned and beaten.  He understood what it meant to go hungry - Paul had suffered much.  He had seen fellow brothers and sisters put to death for their faith.  But he was reminding us of an important truth.  What we see and experience here on earth is temporary and will someday be gone, but what we do not see is eternal and holds so much more hope!  For those who follow Christ it is the hope we hold in the promise of eternal life with Him.  Let that hope hold you through the difficulties that life brings.

Do you cling to the hope you have in Jesus?  Do you believe that there is a much better eternal life that we can look forward to?

This post is linked with Word Filled Wednesday.

4 comments:

  1. Oh yes I do! And I always think beyond here and now, I do all that I do with eternity in mind.

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    1. It is what gets us through the times of difficulty.

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  2. i believe this more with each passing day....

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    1. Yes...the more we have those life experiences, the more we grow to understand our need to cling to the hope we have in Jesus.

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