Our Hidden Suffering

Timothy Keller, author of Walking With God Through Pain, asks an insightful question for all Christians – are you living for God’s glory? If we make God our accomplice in achieving the life we desire, we will resent suffering and demand that He remove it. If, however, we believe, by faith, that we exist first to display His glory, then suffering can find purpose and we will endure it. But, who is watching? Before whom are we to glorify Him?

He proposes a hypothetical situation where for 24 hours everything a person thought, did, or said would be broadcast, seen by a billion people around the world.  “Would it make a difference in how you lived?”  The answer is obvious. Of course, it would. No matter how virtuous one is, regardless of devotion, knowing that billion pairs of eyes and ear are attuned to our lives would invariably change us.

Christian, the eyes of God and the angels are on us. Our lives, lived in worship and faith, will glorify Him even IF NO ONE in the world sees or knows what we do!  I often quote this passage as an encouragement to faithful, steady service. Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV)

Do you know to what that ‘therefore’ refers? 
Yes, it is the “faith chapter,” the 11th of Hebrews.

There we walk the hallway of time remembering people who did great exploits for God: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Samson. Their faith makes great sermon material and Sunday School lessons, doesn’t it? 

But, we tend to gloss over the closing verses in the same passage. “But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground. All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” (Hebrews 11:35-40, NLT)

The inspired writer’s point was to make it clear that “faith” does not always guarantee a visible outcome. We are setting ourselves up for disillusionment if we attempt to create direct cause and effect to justify pain or suffering. We like to say that “This happened to me so that God would accomplish that result.” When we can connect deep suffering, martyrdom, and sacrifice with a measurable advance of God’s rule it helps to bear it. Our faith must go deeper accepting that from our limited perspective sometimes pain and suffering is just that, period!  Faith is the willingness to say, “Thy will be done” and to trust that our God will bring glory to Himself, in Heaven or on earth.

Are you in a time of hidden hardship?
Does your soul ache, your tears fall in secret in the night?
Have you committed yourself to worship, serve, and love God and found the path littered with stumbling stones? 
Is the pain sometimes near unbearable? 

God sees. God knows.
Pray for faith that does not falter, for patient endurance, focused primarily on the joy of giving Him glory – be that here on earth or before the angels of Heaven!

Here is a word from the Word.  Meditate on it and take strength today.  “However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4:16, NIV) “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” (1 Peter 4:19, NIV)

__________

Alabaster Box  is a song telling the story of a woman Jesus forgave of many sins who poured fragrance oil on His feet in adoration.

She was judged, misunderstood. The song imagines her response. It is a worshipful, moving song. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen inspired to pour out your life as a gift to Him, even if misunderstood, judged, or overlooked.

(CeCe Winans ALABASTER BOX) 

The room grew still
As she made her way to Jesus
She stumbles through the tears
That made her blind
She felt such pain
Some spoke in anger
Heard folks whisper
There’s no place here for her kind

Still on she came
Through the shame that flushed her face
Until at last she knelt before His feet
And though she spoke no words
Ev’rything she said was heard
And she poured her love for the Master
From her box of alabaster

I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
from Mary’s alabaster box
Don’t be angry
If I wash His feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His love all around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box

I can’t forget
The way life used to be
I was a pris’ner
To the sin that had me bound
I spent my days
Poured my life without measure
Into a little treasure box
I thought I found
Until the day when Jesus came to me
And healed my soul

With the wonder of His touch
So now I’m giving back to Him
All the praise He’s worthy of
I’ve been forgiven and that’s why
I love Him so much
I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him like oil
From Mary’s alabaster box

Don’t be angry
If I wash His feet with my tears
And dry them with my hair
You weren’t there when my Jesus found me
You did not feel what I felt
When He wrapped His loving arms around me
And you don’t know the cost of the oil
Oh you don’t know the cost of my praise
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box.”

Janice Lyn Sjostrand © 2004 Little Pooky’s Music (Admin. by Pure Psalms Music, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

Published by Jerry Scott

I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I am a Dad to Jay, Sean, Christine, and Maribel. I am a Pastor at Faith Discovery Church. Jerry D. Scott

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