Monthly Archives: October 2008
Off and on throughout the years, I’ve spent some of my quiet moments pondering over the readings contained in Charles E. Cowman’s devotionals – ‘Streams In The Desert’. My initial reaction when I first started to read them was, “How pessimistic.”, as they spoke of a lot of suffering in the Christian’s life.
Over the last decade, I have come to realize that much suffering will inevitably come about, if one desires to really ‘walk the road’. As Paul spoke, “Those who desire to live a godly life will suffer persecution (trials).” To go through seasons of testing and suffering does not spell out ‘defeat’. David the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 23, “Even though I walk THROUGH the Valley of the shadow of death…..”. There is a walking through it – not a staying in it.
I’ve heard many Christians reject any notion to do with suffering and that it is not the will of God. Rather we hear that we are to walk in a perpetual state of blessing, success, joy and happiness, and anyone that is encountering difficulties of various kinds must have some ‘sin’ in their lives. Unrealistic triumphalism is prevalent in many churches but how true is it compared to what the Bible really teaches?
I am not advocating at all for one moment that a Christian is to live in perpetual suffering and pain. I’ve known many Christians who live in a defeatist mentality who are so morbidly introspective and quite frankly are very depressing to be around; there is no sound of victory in their vocabulary whatsoever. We must find balance.
On the other hand, I’ve met very mature Christians who unconsciously made known they had gone through much testing and difficulty. There was a depth to these people that I have never known, unlike the other Christians who continually walk around in an ‘unrealistic cloud’. Shallow folks is what I call them; declaring truths that they have not bought with experience. But, spending time with the ones who have experienced great heartache made me realize that these are the ones that REALLY knew God. They carried around them the ‘fragrance of Jesus’. In fact, these were the ones that had REAL joy and REAL peace. I could sit for hours and listen to them. I wanted to be around them. They were the ones that knew ‘life in abundance’. What was their influence? Nothing but sparking a strong desire to know the Living God in a deeper way.
We are not to ‘rebuke’ trouble when it comes our way, but recognize that God has allowed it for our BEST, even when we don’t understand and God ‘seems’ to frown rather than smile. I’ve known joy and pain mingled together – a strange combination. Have a look at 1 Peter 1 and you will read of how Christians suffered and yet experienced a joy so inexpressible. That is the true voice of victory and it speaks so much of what Paul wrote in Romans 8:37, that “In ALL these things we are MORE than conquerors.” And in Romans 8:28 , “We know that ALL things work together for good to those who love God.” Now there’s the sound of victory – the sound of great hope. Blessings are on the way – green pastures are around the corner – weeping may last for a night – but joy is PROMISED to come in the morning.
We can be certain of that. God is with us through it all and more than we realize.