It has been my practice to refrain from using myself as any type of example, but I must say that the pain and weakness God has allowed me to endure, is becoming quite a teacher. After several operations, I expected to be almost pain-free. Instead, there are persistent challenges ahead.
I am reminded of Paul’s wise words that both encourage and instruct us; “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17). Paul was a living example of what he wrote. As the suffering intensified in his life, the “weight of glory” became richer. His goal was to “gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).
It is said of Abraham Lincoln that he shone brightest when his life was darkest. The list would fill volumes if we were to recount those in Scripture and history who triumphed in suffering, pain and trial. It is not the circumstances in which suffering occurs that makes the difference, but who we allow to shape our character in them. I want to takes seriously Paul’s injunction in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” This process requires looking beyond the circumstances to spiritual formation.
My fellow Christian, look not on your trial but on what God is producing through the trial that will bring Him glory, honor and praise.
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