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May 14, 2009

Thought for the day

When it comes to oppression, persecution, and pain, our faith is to rejoice in hardship for the blessing and joy that will eventually result from it, and for the love that makes it bearable and even meaningful.

When you suffer, do you rejoice because God considered you worthy of the honor? It isn't a natural reaction for us unless we happen to be so filled with love for our Savior that any identification with Him -- even a painful one -- thrills us. Aim for that attitude. Nurture that love.

Chis Tiegreen, "Worthy of Suffering," May 14, The One Year Worship the King Devotional

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Rolley Haggard

Some additional thoughts on this subject that I have found helpful --

First, we can take comfort in the fact that God does not tell us to “give thanks FOR all things”, but rather to “give thanks IN all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We do not have to give thanks FOR the horrible things that happen, but we can give thanks IN the midst of them because regardless of what happens certain wonderful things are still true. For example, regardless of what happens, we know that “God is for us”(Romans 8:31), that He is “causing all things to work together for our good” (Romans 8:28), that our “names are written in heaven”(Luke 10:20), that our “sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12), that “we have fellowship with Him” (1 John 1:7), that He has “chosen gladly to give us the Kingdom” (Luke 12:32), that “He will never leave nor forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5), that He is “with us to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Second, we can take comfort in the fact that God does not tell us to “consider every trial a joy” but rather to “consider it all joy when you encounter various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2, 3). It is not the trial itself that should bring us joy, but the fact that God will cause the trial to produce endurance in us. There’s a big difference. God is not the author of every trial (for example, see Luke 13:16), but He is faithful in every trial to strengthen our faith and to produce patience, perseverance, and endurance, even as it says in Romans 5:3, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.” Again, note here that Paul does not say merely “we exult in our tribulations, period.” Instead, he adds the reason why we can exult even in tribulations – namely because, thanks to God’s faithful working, “tribulation brings about perseverance”.

Third, we can take comfort in the fact that the scriptures do not say that “God causes all things”, but that “God causes all things to work together for our good”. Jesus said, “in the world you shall have tribulation.” But as noted, He did not say we have to “give thanks FOR” every tribulation, or that we must “count every trial in and of itself a joy”. Instead, He gave the reasons why we can “give thanks IN” everything: “because”, He said, “I have overcome the world”; because “the testing of your faith produces endurance”; because “tribulation brings about perseverance.” And so on.

The principle is this: God is not the author of evil, but He does bring good out of evil, so that regardless of what befalls us, whether it is His chastisement or the assaults of the Devil, we can be sure that He is with us to bring about good in spite of it. It is useful to recall that many of the heartbreaking events that befall us are not from God but from the Devil. For example, upon healing a woman who had been afflicted with an infirmity for eighteen years, Christ made this telling remark: “ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16). Here He clearly attributed this woman’s suffering to the Devil. But thankfully, God is greater than the Devil; He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). As a result, like Joseph, we can say to our Adversary, “as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).

God faithfully brings good out of every evil that befalls us. The promise to us is that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) The promise to us is that “in all our affliction, He is afflicted” (Isaiah 63:9). The promise to us is that “He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men.” (Lamentations 3:33)

The consideration of all these things gives me “joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13).

David Wayne

Thanks for this Gina - as to the author's last question - "some days I do, some days I don't." I will say that, regardless of whether I "feel" joyful, I always have the sense that this is the way of following Christ.


Then you're way ahead of me, because I almost never do, I'm afraid. (Half the time, when I put these quotes up, it's to remind myself as much as anyone else!)

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