Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Good of Suffering...

"There is a positive aspect to suffering. We all endure suffering to some degree, but the good news is that through it we can become like Jesus" Henry Blackaby

Nobody likes suffering. We are creatures of comfort, aren't we? We go out of our way to avoid inconvenience. Therefore, when suffering comes, it roots us out of our comfort zones and makes us, well...uncomfortable.

I am not trying to minimize the pain of suffering but I do believe that, as Blackaby says above, there is a positive aspect that we can focus on when trials come that will help alleviate some of our inward focus. If we accept that suffering is inevitable and that suffering is one of God's ways to conform us to the image of His Son, we then can maybe endure better the hard times.

Gold is not gold unless it passes through a flame and the crucible. A diamond is not formed without extreme pressure and time. And you and I do not become like Christ through our comfort alone.

Paul said it best when he said,...

"Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death - even to death on a cross..."

I really don't want to invite suffering into my life but if it helps to hold me into Christ's image, may I embrace it with an eye towards what God wants to do in me through that suffering.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Telling Future Generations...

(Exodus 40:38) "For the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and there was a fire inside the cloud by night, visible to the entire house of Israel throughout all the stages of their journey"

You would think that the significance of the cloud by day and fire by night would be testimony enough for Israel to remain faithful to the Lord. However, it is amazing that the more they journeyed towards the promise land, the more it seems they forgot the provisions of the Lord for them along the way. They even came to a point where they remembered (incorrectly) Egypt, the place where they came out of enslavement, as the land flowing with milk and honey. Not a few times, God moved to wipe out Israel and start over with Moses but Moses pleaded on behalf of the people.

Why would Israel forget? The cloud of God's glory was with them daily. The fire of God's presence guided them through the night. On the surface, it doesn't make sense, or does it?

We as humans tend to become accustomed to the usual and tend to stop seeing the wonder of the miraculous the longer we see it. Life and everyday is a gift from God but most mornings we run through our routines and never stop to think of the One who made us and gave us life. Most of us are blessed way more than we deserve and yet we complain about the hardships we face. And as life becomes ordinary, routine and even monotonous, we forget to acknowledge and tell others just how special our God is, His goodness and His provisions.

I think the Israelites, like us, began to take the cloud and fire for granted. It was there every morning and every evening. Initially, it brought awe and reverence. Eventually it was just something they saw every day until finally, they began to lose their significance. I think the Israelites began to forget what or more importantly who the cloud and fire stood for.

May I always remember to tell my children, friends and family about the greatness of God in my life. Of all the miracles and wonders that He does for me, day by day, year by year. May I live each day in awe and gratefulness for the cloud and the fire that God makes plain to me. May I never take His presence and provisions for granted.