1 John 2:15-17 NKJV:
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world.
17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
This is the command from the Lord to those who claim to be His children: not to love this world. We must discipline our flesh, so not to fall into the temptation of these lusts that John describes. I have to admit that I am guilty of all three of them, and this is why I clinge to the word of God to refine me and to sanctify me on a daily basis. This is why sufferings and God`s chastening produces the result of confining our flesh into the obedience to His word. Suffering stirs hunger to seek the will of God and despair for His deliverance; it drives us closer to the Lord.
Recently I got so exhausted that I started questioning God to show me the deadline for my suffering. He reminded me of a few important things in return:
- He chastens only those whom He considers to be His children.
- He puts us through the fiery trials and sufferings to refine us and make our flesh obedient to sin no more.
- We are not of this world, so we will have tribulations and sufferings just like Jesus promised us we would.
He chastens only those whom He considers to be His children.
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.[a] 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined-and everyone undergoes discipline-then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all (Hebrews 12:6-8 NIV).
This is the promise from Him that if I am to be His child, I am to expect to have discipline. He disciplines us through the fiery trials and sufferings which in return produce humbling of the flesh and reduce sin in our lives. It is only those who don`t experience those trials and discipline from the Lord, they are not His children, but they are illegitimate babes. Illegitimate children have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God.
When looking at all the people who wish and attempt to harm me, I realize when reading these verses in Hebrews 12 that the only reason why they get away in doing evil is because they are not children of God, so He doesn`t chasten them or rebuke them. Instead, He preserves to judge them in His due time.
He puts us through the fiery trials and sufferings to refine us and make our flesh obedient to sin no more.
4 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.2 As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do-living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.4 They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you.5 But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:1-5 NIV).
I heard so many times from my husband and his friends in the past 8 years of my life that I have changed, that I have become a different person. I no longer drink, I became more selecting as to what I watch, and no longer do I have the same friends as I had years ago. All these things are the result of the close walk with the Lord. Living in debauchery, drunkenness, idolatry, reckless and wild living-all these things I forsook for the Lord. Sufferings perfect my flesh to humble and obey the word of God.
Sufferings bring indifference to the earthly lusts and needs. All things I count as loss because my life is for the Lord. What`s the point to live in temporary lusts when this is only for a short lived experience? What`s then? I can confidently say like Ecclesiastes said: "2 "Vanity[a] of vanities," says the Preacher; "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity" (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NKJV). It`s all vanity, meaningless waste of life if the life is not lived for the Lord.
We are not of this world, so we will have tribulations and sufferings just like Jesus promised us we would.
33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33 NIV)
21 You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps (1 Peter 2:21 NIV).
Some days the only way I can characterize my life is: lamentations and mourning and woe (Ezekiel 2:10). I weep for the lost hearts; I lament for the broken lives; and I woe for the endless trials.
God chastens us for sanctification purposes, so we would humble sinful flesh and bring ourselves into obedience to be used by Him. Sufferings are a natural result for the followers of Christ for being not of this world. Jesus suffered unjustly, I am suffering unjustly, apostles and endless followers suffered and suffer unjustly because when we walk with the Lord, we become effective servants. With that we represent all the more threat to Satan. Satan is not interested in oppressing the lost souls because they don`t represent risk for him, but it is only those who are truly the children of God, they are the ones who strike the major blows to his plans.
Jesus overcame this world, and only in Him will we find this peace and contentment, so we need to look up to Him. He is always there for us when we suffer because He knows what it`s like to be accused unjustly or to be mocked and laughed at, so be encouraged that in Jesus is our peace.
When I think of the reasons that I suffer and the potential outcome, which is fruitful prayers that will move that mountains for the Lord, I get encouraged because I know that I am on the right path. I know that God continues to guide me with His rod and His staff. What more can I want than to remain in His will?
I encourage you today to look at your life and consider the way you look at your sufferings. Are you mad at the world and try to justify all the injustices done to you, or do you view them as a way for the Lord to refine you and to humble you to die to sinful life? God allows only limited amount of measure for suffering, and this we know for sure from endless amount of examples through the Bible when all the stories we read have an end to the sufferings people experienced. There was always a result and a victory regardless of how much time it took to get there. So hold still, remain in His will, and allow Him to guide you through the necessary portion of disciple to preserve you as His heir in the Kingdom of God. When I am down, I go back to one of my favorite Psalms:
23 The Lordismy
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a] in the house of the Lord