My last desire—
When the time comes for me to die,To-morrow, or some other day,
If God should bid me make a reply, “O God, thy world was great and fair! Have thanks for all my days have seen; Yet grant me peace from things that were And things that might have been.”
Thomas W. Hazen Rolleston
Dear Friends, prayer and financial partners,
We Pentecostals, "bless our little pea-picking hearts," as Ernie Ford used to say, have yet to scratch the surface on the value inherent in suffering.
Now, I am not talking about self-inflicted suffering like the Flagellants (from Latin flagellare, to whip) who beat themselves or are nailed to a cross in the Philippines and elsewhere by misguided fanatics, either. No, I cannot find anywhere in Scripture that we are expected to suffer just for suffering's sake.
What I have in mind is the type of suffering that many of our Christian brothers and sisters are experience in the Middle East right now. Entire Christian villages have been overrun by fanatical jihadists who often time behead the men, women and children to shock the rest who are lucky enough to survive and thereby get them to convert to Islam.
Is it happening? Sure, it's happening. Has been, and will continue to happen, too!
Read your Bible. This is precisely what the false prophet in league with the beast will, and has done for centuries. That aside, however, since you might look at history and the Bible differently on this subject than I do. So, please understand, I am not one to argue the matter. But, I am one to sound the alarm.
Indeed, the time is short.
So, it is with the backdrop of all that is going on around us that I write this brief essay on suffering. Paul, for one, thought that a suffering Christian was helpful in that it identified us with the suffering of Christ and give us an opportunity to emulate his character with the sole purpose of shaping us into the likeness of Christ. All things work together. All things, not just some things. So, suffering must be included.
Sound too Catholic to you? Well, it shouldn’t. It’s Bible. Need I reference that? If so, for starters may I suggest Romans 8:28-29 and Colossians 1:24. Here, let me print them for you:First Romans 8:28-
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son … (NIV)
Now, Colossians 1:24
Now, Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (NIV)
Now, let’s not just stop there. Think with me for a moment. Do you see how beautifully these verses all blend together in one Divine plan? It is obviously plain to me that firstly uninvited suffering of any sort serves to change us into the image of Christ if we are willing; and secondly, how we handle the suffering can act as a Christian example of purity and mentorship to encourage others to respond similarly.
Complicated? No, not really. Here read what the poet Patricia Persons, a cancer patient had to say:
If you believe in the Word of God
You'll know trials only make us strong
And in Christ anywhere you are in life
Is just where you belong
Take time to read the Book of Job
And you will plainly see
That God will never leave you alone
He's always been there for me
It's not what you are going through friend
It's how you stand the test
Just put your hands in the hands of God
And let Him do the rest
I go through life with a made up mind
I know God has my back
I'm not the one for a pity party now
I pray and get on the right track
I am a living testimony
For all the world to see
And I want the whole wide world to know
I have cancer…..cancer doesn't have me
© Patricia Persons 2014
So, take courage. A lesson well learned is a lesson well kept. Take courage, therefore, and cherish Christ's promise to never leave you or forsake you. Life is not without purpose.
Yours in the journey,
P.S. My latest book on Islamic jihadism was published and is available.