Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekly Impressions - Suffering and God's Care

God gave me an epiphany this last week.  I have always struggled with the seeming dichotomy of God’s promise to care for His children, and His allowance of evil (for instance, torture, or even trials in general) in His children’s lives.  I knew that I didn’t understand, and was alright with that because I could take it on faith.  Though I didn’t understand the specifics, I could apply Romans 8:28-29 and know that, no matter how bad the situation or circumstance seemed, God would use it to make His children more like Christ.  

It struck me the other night... why should I think that, as God’s child, I had the “right” to suffer any less than His only begotten (as opposed to adopted) Son?  That hit me like a ton of bricks.  Jesus received God’s care, too, and He suffered more than torture.  Jesus’ suffering wasn’t so that He might be conformed to the image of Christ... He was Christ.  Jesus suffered and died (and more importantly, rose again) for the good of the rest of God’s children, “...that we would be called children of God[.]” (1 John 3:1b)

Jesus’ whole life on earth - including His suffering, His death, and His resurrection - was the act of God lavishing His love upon us (mentioned earlier in the verse 1 John 3:1).  Just to think on that is a lot to consider.  Yet I must go further to close the loop and say that therefore... how can anything that I suffer not be used by God not only for my good - but perhaps especially for the good of His other children?  Now this is not to say that I have the impact or the perfection or the ability to save as Christ did (not by a long shot!), but if God’s love required His begotten Son to suffer... then wouldn’t it be prideful of me to think that His love would mean otherwise for me?

The real question is:  have I given all of myself to Jesus so that I am willing to suffer for the sake of others?  Am I willing to be in pain for the Lord?  Not every situation or circumstance is for me alone.  Christ may not have needed to be taught through trials how to be perfect, but I do.  Even if God may have taught me the same lesson through a previous circumstance, I could still use the reminder.  God does teach me through my circumstances, but He uses them for others, as well.

So what is it to be cared for - to be loved - by God?  It is to be shaped into the image of Christ, and to be used for others.  On this sinful earth, that will mean trials.  And He will be with you every step of the way.  Each day, He orchestrates this world a little closer to the return of His Son and the destruction of sin.  To live in Christ is Victory.

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