I was talking with my children just this month, about what they thought Christian discipleship meant. To them, it meant having a mentor who was spiritually more mature than them, walking together with them in their Christian journey.
What I find key in the lives of authentic disciples, was the discipline of applying what God was speaking on a regular basis and embracing the sufferings that God had placed in their lives. As I reflect on my journey of following Christ, there have been so many times that I struggled to apply the principles I had learnt during my devotions. But God is so gracious and continues to teach me His ways.
Recently, I had been reading the book of Hosea for my devotions. I saw how God disciplined Israel. But God also has a purpose for Israel. Hosea 2:14–15a (NLT) says, “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” In this passage, God’s promise was that He tenderly calls me, not to a place of comfort but for a season in the desert; where there would be no resources. The only resource I will have during this desert experience is my dependence on God and He promises to transform the difficulties I am facing into hope. The journey God prepares for us to take with Him will lead us into having an abundant life He promises to all who follow Him wholeheartedly (John 10:10b).
Suffering is a part of humanity but what kind of attitude should I have in suffering? 1st Peter 4:1 (NIV), says “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” When I am facing suffering, I am advised in this verse to prepare myself with the same attitude as Christ. When you are prepared to suffer for the Lord, you are prepared to cut all ties with sin. Peter writes in the following verse (1 Peter 4:2), “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” Once, I prepare myself with a Christ attitude for suffering, my desire to live for the will of God increases. Remembering Christ’s attitude at the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42 when He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” God’s will and ways are always much better.
How do we respond to the circumstances that God has allowed us to experience in our lives, especially if they are difficult and challenging? What is our attitude? These are the very elements that God uses to mould us as we continue in our journey of discipleship.
Peter writes about the result of suffering grief through all trials in 1 Peter 1:7, “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Let us then persevere in running this race, keeping our eyes on Christ.
By Deacon Joey Hong (YCKC Bulletin 31 May 2020)