Chris Tomlin O Come all Ye Faithful

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The School of Pain

This morning, after waking,...I stretched....You know those lovely moments when your bed is just SO comfy that you decide maybe not to get out of it that day.  So I had about a moment like that.  Then got Slammed into the wall like an ice hockey player....The whole team; them against me.
Pain-(the opposition) explodes into my reality and suddenly, that bed which a moment ago, embraced me--suddenly becomes an inquisitioner's rack.  I had to get up.  Once vertical....I walked the walk of hot coals between here and my kitchen.  Shake it off!  Shake it off!

Psalm 34:17-19
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.

Psalm 55:16-17
As for me, I will call upon God,
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.

2 Cor4:17
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,  
1 Timothy 4;8
 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come. 

What do you see in all these verses? 
1) Pain or suffering
2) Relief or help enduring.(from God)
3) GREAT BENEFIT
  
Yeah. I'll get all buff and amazing...strolling right past the gym.  Who needs a gym when you are being shaped and grown by pain and suffering? 

All joking aside.
There is a phrase : Pointless suffering.
Let me tell you. The only suffering that is pointless is the suffering of a person who is rejecting the benefit of Christ's suffering and pain....carrying it all themselves without hope of reprieve...THAT is pointless. Why? Because Jesus did it all already.  The suffering of a believer has the effect of burnishing our masterpiece.  It's that final polish  that adds so much beauty.  It also adds dimensions to our character portfolio that cannot be attained via any other route.  It equips us as well. Hard times are coming to this world.  Those of us who have been trained by fire have little to fear. We KNOW how to suffer. We KNOW to whom we need turn. We KNOW that hidden supply of wisdom, character, strength and fortitude. 

There is a book by the prolific writer Andrew Murray called "With Christ in the School of Suffering" --meditate on that title for a bit. Here is a verse along those lines:
Hebrews 5:8
though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.
Christ had a lot to learn about suffering also. Face it, He did not ever have to suffer --through out all eternity past...until he was pressed and pushed passing through that birth canal and landed right smack into a world where our first experience is one of pain. Jesus did not protest or rebel at suffering.  It was a fact that he signed up for it. Why? His whole life was focused on one thing.  The Cross--and if he didn't submit to pain...if he refused the lessons of obedience in his earthly life...then he would have found it impossible to submit and yield to the pain of the Cross.

Likewise...as the verses above attest: we have a lot to learn from the taskmaster, Pain. You know the expression
"no pain; no gain"?  That is true. There is benefit to suffering for the believer.  Pain shapes our character, It trains us for persecution....and also for the day to day hardships and sorrows of this life.  It also gives us a great wealth--a treasure chest of benefit from  which we can draw when we need to comfort someone else who is going through the deep waters of suffering.

2 Cor. 1:4
...who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

 Here is the cycle of suffering.  We suffer (and reap the benefit of suffering in intimacy with the FAther, as He comforts us.) and then we take that comfort and we bless others with it. And when you hold them, weeping, to your chest, you can say with verity: "I know.  I know.  I've been there and I can promise you that you will get through this...this pain is not endless." 

Do you see what we have to offer? HOPE. And the assurance that God has not forgotten them...that He still loves them; that He is PRESENT with them.  As Daniel's three friends were tossed into a fiery furnace, there was a FOURTH man walking amidst the flames. Jesus himself showed up  and they escaped unscathed. Sometimes we need to go through the furnace; but be assured he is there with you in it.
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