During our recent Church camp, Mr. Albert Lee spoke based on the theme ‘From Suffering to Glory’. Each of us took home precious lessons.
The speaker made me check if I was living an ‘entitlement’ Christianity. This phenomenon happens when believers do what they think is needed to be a good Christian, and expect in return that God must do His part to bless i.e. give success, good health and other ‘good’ things. This approach emphasizes God as our Father and Provider, but downplays that He is our Master and that we are His bondslaves for Him to command and do with absolutely, as He wishes.
Paul pointed out that he too could count many impressive religious credentials and works in his life, but that he counted all of them ‘rubbish’ for the sake of Christ. Paul pointed out that his righteousness comes through faith in Christ which is totally dependant on God. That is what you and I should believe too.
Some of you know of my brother-in-law’s asthma attack that left him bedridden and completely dependant for the last two years. I have often asked myself how I would respond, if God allowed me to go through that too. Will I be bitter against God and curse him like Job’s wife asked him to, and refuse to trust Him anymore? In the Philippians passage Albert taught from, Paul continues – “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain resurrection from the dead.” Phil 3:10-11. Albert reminded us that obeying God is never a transaction or a bargain. We obey in order to experience God’s power and ever perfecting love in each of us. He reminded us that Jesus obeyed God – and when He did, He suffered. So the question we should be asking is not “Why am I suffering, Lord?” but rather “Why am I not suffering?” The latter is not a question to ask because we are expected to punish ourselves to do penance to achieve spirituality. Rather, it is a question we need to ask ourselves because we may not be living out our Christian lives with the mind of Christ, but evaluating everything purely with our own human intellect and deciding for ourselves how God should be working in our life.
When I evaluate my brother-in-law’s condition purely through human eyes, I only see his suffering of being trapped in a body that will not respond to most of his brain’s commands. I see the pains of a wife who struggles day in and day out with the chores of caring for a totally dependant husband with no end in sight to his travails.
But when I look beyond that to see what God in His Sovereign will and mercy is doing, I see a man who was once steeped in idol worship now clearly shaking his head to say no to idol worship, and eagerly nodding when his children offer to pray for him. I begin to see that while he may hardly be able to communicate with us, the Holy Spirit is undoubtedly communing with him, and he with the heavenly Father. The Abba Father has assured him through that communion that He will sustain him despite what he is going through and has a good and perfect plan for him. I see the hand of God in the family, touching and transforming the members one by one to be more and more Christ-like, hopeful that there will be miraculous healing, but no matter what continuing to trust in God’s goodness in their lives. I see a little better what the speaker was trying to convey in his topic – From Suffering to Glory.
By Daniel John, Elder (YCKC Bulletin 27&28 June 2015)