Friday, August 8th, 2014
Valiant! Like David (Part 42)
You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor;
My adversaries are all before You.
Reproach has broken my heart,
And I am full of heaviness;
I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
And for comforters, but I found none.
Psalm 69:19-20 (NKJV)
King David suffered greatly: 'I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil of my heart' (Psalm 38:8). King Jesus suffered more: 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?... The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My Hands and My Feet' (Psalm 22:1,16).
The Apostle Paul learned the hard way: 'For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name's sake' (Acts 9:16).*
Which brings us to the tough question skeptics love to ask and apologists try to answer: Why do good people suffer?** Surely, only Jesus was good all the time. Even so, David suffered before He sinned with Bathsheba. Paul suffered after he met Jesus. Was it punishment for Paul's prior sins, or a set-up job for his future testimonies? I believe the latter.
Because Paul bragged about his suffering like medals of honor: 'If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity' (2 Corinthians 11:30). Undeniably, suffering puts the afflicted on a stage. For better or worse, we watch their tragedies with fascination. We label them as victims--or heroes.
Consider: In Bible times, suffering filled the Roman Coliseum. Up to 80,000 spectators watched each show, which included the persecution of Christians. Today, suffering fills our screens. Pain-drenched dramas are top draws. On our roads, suffering stops traffic, as we pause to see the wreckage of others.
Consider also: If one definition of glory is 'brilliant illumination,' then suffering and glory go together. Because Jesus said: 'Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' (Luke 24:26). Paul put it this way: 'I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us' (Romans 8:18). Jesus concludes: 'It was necessary for the Christ to suffer' (Luke 24:46).
Why? If suffering draws attention to its victims, consider your reaction to suffering as a golden opportunity to witness God--and for others to witness your faith through pain, your eventual triumph beyond it, and the great good that will follow it. For David, it was his reign, the establishment of Israel--and the lineage of Christ.
For Paul, it was the beginning of the most effective evangelism the world would ever know. For Jesus, it was the opportunity to spend eternity in Heaven for every person on earth who would follow Him.
Actors, models and talent for Christ, 'Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy' (1 Peter 4:12-13).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: your reactions to life's dramas matter more than you know. Surely on screen, more surely in life. Because suffering is a set up job--like labor before childbirth.
So suffer well. Suffer with thanksgiving. Suffer with hope. Ask God for deliverance, and He will give it gladly. The outcome will be infinitely better than the pain that preceded it.
To Be Continued...
* How the Apostle Paul suffered for Christ: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Corinthians+11%3A22-33&version=NKJV
** 'Why Does God Allow Tragedy And Suffering?' by Christian apologist, Lee Strobel: https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/07/why-does-god-allow-tragedy-and-suffering/
** AMTC Devotion on the 'Why' of suffering: 'I Don't Understand...': http://www.amtcdevotions.com/i-dont-understand
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Valiant! Like David series.