Wednesday, October 25, 2017

From: THE OFFICER 1991
Captain Howard Webber

SUFFERING SERVANTS
1. The Promise and the Calling
         AT first sight the words, 'The Lord will make you go through hard times' (Isaiah 30:20), seem hard to accept, even with the accompanying comfort, 'but he himself will be there to teach you, and you will not have to search for him any more. If you wander off the road to the right or to the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, "Here is the road. Follow it." '
         We know that Satan is indeed the source of all sin and that God did not design this world to be a place of suffering and sorrow. The fact that it is such is due to the presence of sin.
         All men experience to varying degrees these consequences of sin being present in the world. However, Jesus made it clear that the nature and amount of a person's suffering is not necessarily related to the nature and amount of his personal sin. This doesn't prevent some Christians who suffer in a particular way thinking that this is a result of something that they have done. Unfortunately, they find it hard to get away from the thought that suffering is the effect in their lives of something caused by their lives.
         In addition, there is a promise of suffering made to those who would be God's servants. It is not because God delights in or desires suffering and pain for his servants, quite the reverse. In Christ, God came to heal our wounds and relieve our sufferings. Our sufferings bring pain to God and our tears cause God to weep.
         There may be times when God's children suffer because he is forced to chastise them (Hebrews 12:5-11), but frequently it will be by virtue of our proximity to God. God is the ultimate target of Satan's attacks and anyone close to a target is liable to receive shot too. The closer we are, the more liable we are.
         However, the pain that we have to bear still doesn't compare with his pain. A father who watches his child writhe in agony suffers more in the watching than if he bore the pain himself. How often has a parent cried, `0 that it were I and not he that had to bear this dreadful thing.'
         In Jesus, God bore (and bears) the double agony of experiencing suffering and watching suffering. On the cross God the Son went through physical pain, mental despair and spiritual abandonment, whilst God the Father watched what was done to him. At Christ's baptism, and again at his transfiguration, the Father spoke, audibly confirming who Jesus was; how much he loved him; and how pleased he was with him. Those words were not for the benefit of Jesus. He didn't need them; they were for others present on both occasions.

END PART ONE OF 7


Major Howard Webber, Retired

Bournemouth, UK

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