God's Exquisite Garden

STRENGTH TO ENDURE SUFFERING

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The word strength means mental power, force, vigor, moral power, firmness, and courage. The word endure means hold out against, bear without resistance, tolerate, to continue or to last. The word suffer means to feel pain or distress, sustain loss, injury, harm, or punishment. A second definition of the word suffer is to tolerate or endure evil, injury, pain, or death.

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.
Psalm 28:7(NKJV)

The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.
Habakkuk 3:19(NKJV)

Our strength comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. In Philippians 4:13 we read," I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. " Also found in II Corinthians 12:9,"... and he said to me, ' my grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness. ' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

There is a statue of Christ in front of a French Cathedral, and on each side are His twelve apostles. Underneath them are listed their strongest virtues contrasted by their strongest vices.Peter's most exceptional quality is his courage, then you see Peter's figure running from a leopard, symbolizing his cowardice. Below this you'll see the same figure sitting on a leopard running forward. The sculptor wanted to show us that when Christ Jesus is allowed to dwell in us, Jesus can take our weaknesses and change them into our strengths.

When we have Jesus dwelling in us, we are so fortunate. He compared Himself to a vine and Christians are the branches. Branches bear fruit. He is the head of the Church, and we are members. This is in comparison to an actual body.


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John 15:5," I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing. " Colossians 1:18," And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. " Your own faith is proved when you are enduring trials.

We read in Hebrews 12:1-2," Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

When discouragements or injuries happen, many people jump ship. These difficult times can strengthen us if we endure and continue trusting in God's care. God rewards those who endure and are found faithful. Though the outcome may not be what we thought, we must stay faithful to God.

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22(NKJV)

But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment.
Psalm 9:7(NKJV)

You, O Lord, remain forever; Your throne from generation to generation.
Lamentations 5:19(NKJV)

During a lifetime, we will face some of life's difficulties. No one is immune to them. These are various upsets; loss of a job, failure in a relationship, or the death of a loved one, to name a few. Jesus was here on this earth and suffered. He is our mediator during prayer unto God. How reassuring that is!! Jesus, who has lived on this earth and faced similar trials, mediates for us in our behalf. When we are faced with a trying time, God is fully aware. When we are suffering due to our belief, God knows. He is telling us, "Stay strong, hold on, there is a great reward awaiting you."

" If we endure, we shall also reign with Him, If we deny Him, he will also deny us, " II Timothy 2:12.

We read in II Timothy 4: 7-8 ," I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. "

Years ago, I worked with an assistant principal who was easy to talk with. One day, I was having a difficult time with a behavioral student who was acting out. I walked the halls for a five minute breather, then I walked into the office, as the dread of dealing with that student's situation overtook me. The administrator put his arm on my shoulder, in what was known as a cowboy hug, and told me," Mrs. Lawrence, this too shall pass." I walked back to the classroom.

Sometimes, we need that added boost from someone else who is knowledgeable in the area of our concern.

In the Bible, we are told that we will suffer. The suffering could be physical or a verbal personal attack upon us. This attack might be in the form of our being shunned to ridicule our beliefs. Suffering is a part of life as a result of sin. No one is excluded.

When we look back at the creation we learn that Adam and Eve were the first man and woman. God told them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:15-17) The devil tempted Eve and she ate of that tree. She then told Adam and he also ate of the fruit of the tree. The punishment they received from the Lord was to be banished from the Garden of Eden. The man had to work, and the woman would have pain in childbirth. They were told they would return unto dust. This is found in Genesis 3:1-19

We have been told that all will suffer death. This is the first death. The second death is the penalty reserved for the unrighteous. We read in Revelation 20:14," Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. "

Some people die in their sleep while others suffer a painful death. When people die and they are faithful members of the Lord's church, they are going to a much better place.

Paul tells us in Philippians 1:23," For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. "

DISCUSSION AND STUDY QUESTIONS:
1) What can I do to help ease the pain caused by hurting?
2) What causes bad things to occur?
3) Why do people suffer?
4) In what ways is God helping me to endure pain?

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Copyright 2007 Linda Lawrence










46071: Suffering: Understanding the Love of God Suffering: Understanding the Love of God
By John Calvin; Joseph Hill, ed. / Evangelical Press

John Calvin was familiar with suffering. He faced challenges as a leader of the Reformation, ministered to people undergoing various trials, and experienced his own physical difficulties and the death of loved ones. During those times, Calvin turned particularly to the Psalms and to Job for comfort and wisdom to pass on to his congregation and readers. Suffering: Understanding the Love of God contains selections from Calvin's writings on the topic of suffering. Chapters include the purpose of suffering, the promises and providence of God, prayer, praise, perseverance, and other specific aspects of a proper response to trials. Compiled by Joseph Hill and presented in contemporary English, these selections are accompanied by notes and stories from Hill's own pastoral experience and offer a compassionate look at the sensitive subject of suffering.


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