TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering

In Christendom, there are some who say followers of Christ are not supposed to experience hardships, trials or suffering. That is a down right lie. The Holy Scriptures, from beginning to end, are replete with examples of godly people who experienced hardships, trials or sufferings. From Joseph, Daniel, Jesus to Paul, we see them experience those. If we are to follow Christ, Jesus must serve as an example. Furthermore, His disciples, of which Paul was, also serve as an example for us. As such, let’s look at the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering.

Ephesians 3

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people,this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

In verse one, Paul said, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—” Paul realized that he was a servant (v.7). Paul was telling the Ephesians that he was a prisoner of Christ for the purpose of the gospel. Similarly, in Philippians 2, Paul said that ” if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ…In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus… he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” No one will argue that Paul had a difficult life, but he certainly found rest for his soul. That is how any of us can find rest for our souls. That is the entire point of the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering.

Esther, Stephen, Paul and Jesus all saw their actions as needed for the good of those whom God had called them to experience hardships, trials or sufferings. I must admit that my failure to remember that I am to love my wife as Christ loved the church causes me to falter repeatedly in meeting God’s command to give myself up for her. TRUTHfully, there are times when I resent having to do stuff for her when I fail to see myself as a servant for the gospel and for my wife. HEADLINE: Marriage is not solely for us. God’s purpose in marriage is to symbolize Christ’s love for the church. Again, here we are back at being a servant. For the believer, there is no way around that our lives are supposed to be one of service for and to Jesus. Jesus suffered relationally, emotionally, physically and any other “lly” that we can think of as we begin to become selfish. Jesus relinquished what was rightfully His, his glory and being worshipped, for the gospel. In fact, He did not only give up what was His, He took on what was not His. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Again, this is the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering.

To the end, Jesus maintained that servant’s mentality which enabled Him to gladly suffer on our behalf. Again, it was not only Jesus, but there are others who modeled the way for us. Listen to what Hebrews 12:1-3 tells us.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

The passage makes others and especially Jesus the central focus of our thinking not ourselves. In fact, the text tells us to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” For most of us, that is thinking about ourselves. We get entangled and thrown off the purpose of the gospel when we look at ourselves. Pride surfaces because we are not getting treated well or like it is about us. The servant or the prisoner of Christ reflects on the fact that our lives are not our own. Once more in Galatians 2:19-20, Paul models the way for us when he wrote “19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This is truly the way to the TRUTH: How Not to be Discourage in Your Suffering. At every turn in his service, Paul recognized that his service to Christ was not about him but about Jesus. This is how we defeat discouragement. 

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