In the book “Introduction to the Devout Life” (2nd Edition) by Francis De Sales, he writes, “Gaze often inwardly upon Jesus Christ crucified, naked, blasphemed, falsely accused, forsaken, overwhelmed with every possible grief and sorrow, and remember that none of your sufferings can ever be compared to His, either in kind or degree, and that you can never suffer anything for Him worthy to be weighed against what He has borne for you.”
I have tried to keep this in mind through several very bad vehicle accidents, a bout with cancer, emergency surgeries, though so many times in my Christian walk it made me wonder if the Lord had forsaken me, or if perhaps a sin I committed was bad enough that the trials and tribulations that He had allowed to come my way were going to be more punishment than I could bear.
I have been blessed since these times with the understanding and wisdom from God that nothing, and please remember this, nothing comes upon a child of the Most High God unless it goes through the throne of His grace first. All that He allows to happen to us is for His glory, and to draw us closer to Him, but sometimes the trials can be so very difficult. When I look back on these times, and many, many more I could name, if someone was to ask me what has happened to me in the past regarding this issue, I would not consider them even important enough to mention.
Suffering for the Lord our God does not mean situations we have brought upon ourselves, things we have allowed to happen to us that we could have either avoided, given forethought to with the knowledge that these only happened because of our own indecisiveness, or, dare I say, our own stupidity. I speak here of those things that, as best as can be described, we have no control over. As far as I know, we do not choose certain illness’s, there is nothing in us, nor am I suggesting one would choose, something like the mumps, a bad flu, or even polio. Yet these, and those that are far, far worse, can, and should be used for the glory of God.
I am not speaking here about Hebrew 12:11, but it could be that many times the discipline of the Lord is exactly what is necessary to draw us back to Him. The proof, in at least one way, of our true love for our Heavenly Father is the way we handle the trials that he sends our way. Do not be fooled, God is not allowing these things to happen to us to ‘see what we will do or how we will react’, He is omniscient. These things teach us not only to be obedient but they can, and should, produce in us the fruit of righteousness. O, but sometimes they can hurt so much, not only physically but emotionally, and yes, even spiritually.
Always, and I cannot stress this enough, always we must remember that He loves us so much. Our Lord would no more hurt us without cause than a loving parent would give their child a snake or a rock. (Luke 11:13) Two men in the Scriptures speak to my heart in this area, Jeremiah and Job. Jeremiah was told by God that the people were not going to listen to him, that he would have no converts, as it were, and that many would perish, and those that would not die would go into captivity. A nearly entire life of great sorrow, but, read Jeremiah 20:9 “Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.” Read on in the book of Job 13:15. “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him;”
There is a place in the heart of God, of this I am sure, for those that He chooses to suffer greatly for His name. Many, I am afraid, do not seek these great blessings from Him, more concerned with the safety and security of life, a painless, more or less, existence here on this earth. (God loves me so much He wouldn’t let that happen to me) In Acts 14:22 it is quite clear that “we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God.” For each of us this tribulation, this suffering is different, relative to the Body of Christ, but of one thing I am sure, if you truly love Him, if you sincerely desire to be an obedient and profitable servant of the Most High God and reflect the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, you will suffer, and because of the incredible grace of God, His immeasurable love for us, and the strength that only the Holy Spirit can imbue upon us, joy will fill your heart. Pray on these matters deeply, pray for His will in your life to be done, no matter what He allows to come your way, but mostly, pray that He will be glorified in the highest. Remember His deep abiding love for you and that “He will never leave you or forsake you.