“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (1st Peter 5:8)
And that lion, that dragon can approach anyone he so desires, at any time, and do anything he wants to do to them. But to those who are hid in Christ, the first place he must go is to the throne of Almighty God.
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” (Isaiah 49:16)
Where those spikes were driven through His hands your name is written, you are watched over, you are protected, you are loved beyond measure. But even though we are the righteousness of God in Christ, we will suffer.
“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” (2nd Tim. 2:12)
I ask a question of you here, and forgive me if I have asked it before, but I believe it is important and reveals something of great value to the Lord in each of us. Would you rather suffer personally, or watch others as they do?
I offer this question because of the truth of what we are witnessing in the world today, the truth of Matthew 24:12, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”
“I will praise you, but as soon as the trials arrive at my doorstep, as soon as the pain, suffering and sorrow touch me, my prayers will shift to my own welfare.”
“For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” (Heb. 10:34)
Do not believe this to be an unnatural attitude of one who has been crucified with Christ.
“Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” (Matt. 26:31)
Peter went out and wept bitterly when he realized the truth of those words. And although it is not recorded for us, I believe that each of those who were in the garden with our Lord that night in some form experienced a shame that all of us who have been born-again have known ourselves.
But they did not remain there.
Our adversary asks for permission, and that permission somewhere along the path we are on to that strait gate is granted, and so our focus, our main focus shifts from those who are suffering to our own trial. In these moments when there is an opportunity to become selfish, to become completely self-centered, and that is the goal of that roaring lion.
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” (Heb. 13:3)
Can you? Do you?
Does your mind in the midst of great personal pain and suffering at least for a few moments reach out to our Father in heaven and ask Him to give a moment of peace to those you have now joined with? Can you reach out a hand of compassion to one who is in great pain or suffering while you yourself are experiencing the same?
It is normal, that moment in the garden when all forsook Him and ran away is normal. My friends, you and I would have done the same, and have perhaps more than once. And what has He with whom we are heirs to the Kingdom with done each time?
“Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matt. 18:22)
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:” (1st Peter 4:12)
If you want to envision James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” then look deeply into Peter’s eyes as he stood up, wiped the tears from his face, and resolutely, with great determination that for the rest of his life there was no price that he was not willing to pay.
That does not mean the trials are over, there may be more, and that much worse, but by the exercising of our faith it grows stronger, we can stand where once we fell.
If it is your turn to suffer, then suffer well, accept all your Father offers, but do not forget those that are in that same place you are. You can pray in that valley for them while you are there also.