I am facing some challenging and trying times in my personal life right now. I’m not saying this for your pity, though. For I am very aware that these trials have been arranged by GOD Himself to test the genuineness of my faith (1 Peter 1:7), and that the testing of my faith will produce perseverance (1 Peter 1:7).
If I didn’t know that there was a PURPOSE for my suffering, I would always question God “WHY! WHY ME!” and I would probably even doubt whether or not God was still with me; I would feel confused and hopeless; I would be tempted to compromise my faith in order to find a way out of the suffering; or I would just want to give up on life all together. But because I have KNOWLEDGE and UNDERSTANDING of why I’m going through certain trials in my life–that it is not the devil trying to take me out, but rather the will of God to make me stronger in my spiritual life–it gives me great comfort and it helps me to cope with my trials.
From reading the Bible, I understand that in order to reign with Christ, I have to suffer first. In order to walk in the fullness of that which God wants to give me (influence, revelation, anointing, power and authority), I have to be tested through various trials to see if I’m qualified. The best way I can describe it is like wanting to join a fraternity–If I want access to everything that the fraternity has to offer me, I have to first pass the rite of initiation. Suffering is a mandatory initiation process to receive what God has for you. Even Jesus had to suffer the cross before he was given authority over all things in heaven, on earth and under the earth. Jesus had to first suffer before he became qualified to sit at the right hand of the Father as High Priest.
1 Peter 4:12 reads, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”
Although I know that the present sufferings I go through cannot be compared to the glory that will be revealed in me if I just endure (Romans 8:18), come on, let’s just be real–The cross that I have to bear still feels overwhelming at times, at that doesn’t feel joyous at all! Jesus himself experienced the same overwhelming feeling when he was in the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s human nature to grow weary, but that’s why we need the strength of God to help us get through certain things, for “the flesh is weak but the Spirit is willing” (Matthew 26:41). Again, I’m not confused or hopeless in my situation, because I have FAITH, and I KNOW that there is a PROMISE waiting for me on the other side. But sometimes, not knowing how long I will have to carry my cross can be a little discouraging.
But Hebrews 12:2 encourages me to “fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my 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.”
I thank God that I have an example in Jesus Christ. If I didn’t have an example of someone before me who was able to endure his cross, I wouldn’t think that I had it in me to do the same. But I am greatly encouraged to know that someone else was able to endure. It strengthens the hope and faith I have in my own suffering. Not only that, but the same Spirit that worked in Christ Jesus to help him endure also works in me! Therefore, not only do I have an example in Jesus to look up to, but I also have the Holy Spirit who lives in me and will help me get through this.
With that being said, this morning I got up to get ready for work. And as I went into the bathroom to wash my face, these discouraging thoughts about my situation began to cloud my mind. But then I heard some lyrics from a Kirt Franklin song playing in my spirit: “I know that I can make it. I know that I can stand. No matter what may come my way. My life is in your hands.” This tune kept ringing in my spirit. Then I heard the Holy Spirit speak to me and he said, “Look in the mirror.” So I looked in the mirror and stared at my reflection. Then the Holy Spirit spoke to me again, “Encourage yourself in the Lord. Sing this song to yourself.” So I stared at myself in the mirror and began to sing to myself over and over again, “I know that I can make it. I know that I can stand. No matter what may come my way. My life is in your hands.” I almost cried.
In summary, we all have to go through suffering in life. It’s a part of the process of birthing greatness in us. And it can sometimes get overwhelming, because we aren’t superhuman. But let us remember, Jesus is our example. And the same Spirit that was in him that strengthened him and helped him endure lives in us as well! Let us endure our suffering so we can grow in faith and in the anointing and power of God. And also, it’s good to receive encouragement from others. But we have to learn to look in the mirror and encourage ourselves in the Lord. We have to encourage ourselves with the word of God. We have to speak life over ourselves. There is power in our words.
For all those of you who are going through rough times right now, know that you aren’t suffering in vain. It’s all for a great purpose! Hang on in there! Hang on to the promise! Look past the pain and the tears and the suffering and the cross, and set your mind on the glory that will be revealed if you just hold out! I’ll leave you with this:
1 Peter 5:10: And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.