I got a letter from my Manong on the 18th of the 10th and he shared me his letter that he will give to a friend concerning suffering and afflictions, this is in connection on the post that I made on that same day Hold me it Hurts!
... let me share to you excerpt from his letter...
....I just wrote because I wanted to give a letter from a friend that speaks of suffering and afflictions. Please if you don't mind post it on your site also since I believe it will open other's peoples eyes. Thanks.
The Afflictions of the Gospel
In 2nd Timothy 1-8&9, Paul admonished Timothy to be partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.....
I was recntly viewing some DVD's of the growth and development of the underground church in China. This house flourished greatly under the harshest of conditions. They were outlawed, killed and imprisoned for just proclaiming the gospel, yet continued to do so. The curhc grew from few to over 80 million believers during these difficult times. In light of this it is understandable why Paul's admonition to Timothy. Paul understood the working of God's power and that which it produced. Let's further examine some more of the directives in 2nd Timothy regarding this matter.....
2nd chapter verse 3, Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2nd chapter verse 4, No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.
2nd chapter verses 9&10, Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
2nd chapter verse 12, If we suffer, we shall also reign with him......
3rd chapter verses 1-7, This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
3rd chapter verse 12, Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
4th chapter verse 5, But watch you in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
I believe many in the body of Christ do not understand the value of suffering. Suffering and joy are opponents in the natural, but inextricably connected in the spirit for they become united in a very holy way. The developing church in China embraced this, even looked forward to it, understanding the blessing that would come forth from it. The value in suffering as a Christian immeasurable. It cleanses, purges, matures, enlightens, and establishes us in the faith. The affliction of the gospel is not just suffering for sufferings sakes. It is suffering for the gospel, the truth, for and in Christ Jesus. All things work together for good for believers as the scripture teaches. What is it that "all" excludes in this promise? The answer is nothing. Is everything good that works for good; probably not, it depends on ones perspective. I realize thatwe are perislously close, if not there, to creating an oxymoron, and these things may only be understood from a spiritual perspective. Like Jesus, we learn obedience through the things we suffer and often that suffering is generated as a result of that obedience. The servant is not greater than the mster. We need to learn to embrace suffering, understanding that it is sustenance to righteosness.
Entering into Christ's Sufferings
It seems there are so many hurting people in the world. It is even more strange that many of these people proclaim to be Christians. It isnot that Christians are not supposed to hurt, however, neither should we be constantly and continuously beat down. Scripture teaches our strength is our joy in the Lord. Could it be our joy in the Lord is dependent upon our physical state of affairs in this world? Could it be we measure blessing with a material yardstick? Coult it be we conclude that trial and tribulation is looked upon as some kind of punishment from God. Many Christians are seeking God for solutions, not realizing He is the solution. 1st Peter 1:6-7 tells us, "Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith being much more precious than gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." Peter says again in chapter 4 verse 12, "We ought not to think it strange the fiery trial which is to try us, as though some strange thing were happening." He goes on to say, "We ought to be rejoicing in these trials, in as much as wew are partaking of Christ's suffering, that when His glory shall be revealed we may be glad with exceeding joy."
Is it possible we have been deluded into interpreting suffering from a carnal perspective? We often are driven to distractioin in the pursuit of maintaininga life style, or accommplishing some worldly goal, apart from the Lord's leading. Suffering for a Christian is the substance which sustains spiritual growth and maturity. In 1st Cor. 1, Paul speaks of the trouble and suffering the disciples encountered in Asia. He says, "We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life; but we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead." Most modern day Christians shun this type of suffering. We have been led to believe this kind of suffering is the result of disobedience. Surely that possibility exists, however Paul again addressed the subject in 2 Cor. 12:10, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in distresses, in necessities, in persecutions, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." Paul did not fight as one that beateth the air. He understood the necessity of suffering and the spiritual benefit it produced.
Refining is never a pleasant process. Many professing Christians have been willing to enter into agreement with the truth, by giving mental assent to its validity, while at the same time distancing themselves from it in experience and reality. Was it not God, who said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" Could it be that God in His infinite wisdom considered physical suffering and His blessing to be synonymous? Paul was able to take pleasure in suffering knowing that gret spiritual strength was being processed. Jus as Job's friends reasoned, there were also those who questioned Paul's calling as an apostle. He writes to the Thessalonian church and says in 2nd Thes.1:4-5, "...so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is a manifest token of the righteous judgement of God for that ye may be called worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer." If we spend our life on earth trying to insulate ourselves from God's appointed suffering in order to insure our physical comfort and security, our growth in Christ will be stunted at best.
Hebrews 5:8 tells us Jesus learned obedience through the things which He suffered. The servant is not greater than the mster. suffering in Christ is a vital part of our walk. If we will embrace it and learn of its eternal value, wew will mature in the truth of God.
One of the more obvious weaknesses in the body of Christ today is our unwillingness to suffer. It is costly. In Watchman Nee's book, Spiritual Authority he says, "It is not how much we suffer, but how much we learn from suffering." Political and economic expediency in the church has demanded compromise. Spiritual power and authority are born out of the furnace of affliction. God, knowing the flesh will always take the path of least resistance, has provided in His mercy, this process of perfection. We must learn to rejoice in the Lord when trial and suffering comes calling. Though it is distasteful and often painful to the flesh, it is wonderfully liberating in the spirit, when we learn to be content in whatsoever state we find ourselves. The love of God can be seen, but is seldom fully understood by men. His ways are not our ways. We must not be driven to distraction through fear of suffering.
We are directed in scripture to seek after the Lord, His nature, His character, Him. If our focus is only on solutions, He is not in it. Externals will always embrace injustice. Paul says in Phil. 4:11, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content." He later says in verse 13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." This scripture speaks of our ability, in Christ, to be abased and to suffer need while experiencing affliction without seeking carnal solutions, but seeking Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. In that pursuit is the solution that comes from God. This growth of the inner man. This is heavenly manna. This is the bread of life. The endless pursuit of solutions that only give relief to temporal, external circumstances will capture our focus and chain it to the carnal.
Jesus is the solution. Everything is yea, yea. The old is passed away, all things become new. Col 3:2-3, "Set your affections on things above, not on things of the earth, for you are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." This is the solution.