If God really loves us, why does He let us suffer?

One of the great truths that God has revealed in the Bible is that “God is love.” By God’s definition, that means God wants our good, our blessing (1 Cor. 13). Love is often demonstrated through giving, or sacrificing one’s own interests for another. God demonstrated His love to us by giving His special, loved Son to die at the hands of wicked sinners. How could allowing His Son to go through so much agony and suffering be seen as love? It was love to us, because that death purchased our eternal life. It was love to His Son, because that death procured eternal glory for His Son, and a bride to be with Him and love Him forever.

Why does God allow us to suffer? This is a question the writer has been contemplating for some time, and this article is an attempt to share what I have gleaned (though only in a small way experienced). We cannot always understand God’s ways. He doesn’t always reveal to us the why in our lives, but we do know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB95). Just as pain has an indispensable purpose in our physical lives to preserve us from danger and damage, so trials are allowed in our lives for a reason. (For example, pain from touching a hot stove causes us to react to not get burned. We would hurt ourselves more if we didn’t have that painful sensation to tell us something is wrong.) Or perhaps you don’t know the Lord personally–you don’t have the peace of knowing your sins are forgiven. Consider that painful events in life may be God’s way of telling you that you need to be right with Him. If you don’t react (e.g. pull your hand back from the hot stove), you will be eternally in pain (the righteous consequence for sin), and God does not want that for you.

Job didn’t know the reason for his trial, but he never blamed God or turned from Him. We must trust God even when we utterly do not understand, and cling to the faithful, loving One when there seems to be no cause. It is easy to love God and trust God when life is going well. Suffering is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to God our love to Him and faith in Him, even when life hurts.

Romans chapter 8 has become a source of strength and comfort to me. The same God who gave up His very best for us is the God who will give us “all things” through Christ (Romans 8:32). Suffering is only temporary–we have much to look forward to! The Lord Jesus told His disciples that this life would not be easy, but that He was greater than all their trials: “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The apostles taught that it is “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

God tells us one of the reasons for suffering is “for discipline” (training) which results in our lives becoming more righteous and like His (Hebrews 12:7, 11). This training is designed in love to make us more like the Lord Jesus. In Hebrews 11, some of the faithful suffered and even gave their lives to “obtain a better resurrection” (reward after death) (Hebrews 11:35). Paul was told that his suffering (not from God, but from Satan) was allowed in order to preserve him from becoming proud (2 Cor. 12:7). Peter says that suffering proves our faith to be genuine, even when tested by the fire of trials, and results in glory, praise and honor (1 Peter 1:7, Zech. 13:9).

Note that God is not the source of evil, nor does he take pleasure in our pain. Rather, He suffers with us. “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them: in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah 63:9). Peter, who wrote much about suffering, reminds us to cast our anxiety on Him, “because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Romans 8 also affirms to us that God loves us, even though He allows suffering in our lives– His people are sometimes like “sheep for the slaughter”. This is difficult for us to understand, but we must accept what our Creator and Redeemer tells us. The writer quotes that even when we are slaughtered continually for God’s sake, we still overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Why doesn’t God just stop all the evil and suffering? Though God is all-powerful, He still has given mankind the ability to make decisions, whether good or bad. He does not want mechanical obedience, which would be the result if He immediately judged every sin and failure. He does not always choose to interfere, even when His creatures’ decisions harm others. When the Lord Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem shortly before His crucifixion, lamenting that they had not come to take refuge in Him, He illustrated the fact that God has given mankind a free will, and He will allow us to go our own way if we insist upon it, even if it is to our detriment or the detriment of God’s own people, and even though it greatly grieves Him. God put this world into the hands of mankind as stewards, but mankind has utterly failed in that stewardship. During this period of failure, God restrains His judging hand in grace as He calls mankind to repentance, and in love He walks with His own when they suffer as a result, while assuring us that His true and righteous King will one day judge evil and set up a righteous, perfect rule.

We can be assured that though God allows trials in our lives, He gives us grace to match the trial. The apostle Paul went to God with his trials and learned the secret of God’s grace when God assured him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Paul’s response was, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Therefore, suffering forces us to depend upon God, rather than ourselves. The same God that allowed Stephen to be stoned to death gave Him a vision of the risen Christ (Acts 7:56). Job received twice as much after his trial than he had before his trial. Lazarus was sick, and the Lord waited to come until after he had died, but soon after shared in their tears and then raised him from the dead. “God is faithful” to give us the strength not only to resist sin’s temptation, but also to endure in our trials (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). Paul and Silas rejoiced and sang praise to God after being beaten and imprisoned, because they had a heavenly perspective. After Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus Himself approached and began walking with two disheartened travelers (Luke 24:15). The revelation of Himself to them changed everything (Luke 24:15).

A bright life without pain and suffering awaits us beyond the darkness of this broken world’s night (Revelation 21:4). Take heart, dear child of God, there is light at the end of this tunnel. “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence” (Psalm 42:5).

Helpful passages: Psalm 23; John 14; Romans 8; 2 Thes. 1; 2 Tim 2:1-13; Hebrews 11-12:11; 1 Peter 4-5; 1 John 4


In summary:

Can I trust God when it comes to suffering?

  • The apostle Peter in his first epistle (which has the theme of suffering saints) reminds us that God cares for us, and that we can trust a faithful Creator.
  • We can trust that God feels with us in our suffering. He feels what we are going through.
  • We have a great High Priest who ministers to our needs and feels for us, who Himself suffered far more than we will ever suffer.

Is there always a reason for suffering?

  • We know that the primary reason for suffering is that it is the result of sin. God is not the author of evil.
  • We know that God eventually uses suffering to bring good, even if it doesn’t seem good at the time. This could include character adjustments, bringing us closer in our relationship to Him, teaching us lessons, eternal reward, etc.
  • Some suffering God uses to discipline or train us, to make us more like Him. Tribulation purifies us and produces endurance and proven character (Romans 5:3-4). We can come to know God better through trials if we have the proper frame of mind and do not become bitter.
  • Suffering for Christ’s sake gives us a way to prove our love for Him.
  • Suffering results in future glory and is a prerequisite to reigning with Christ.
  • We are called to be like Christ, to suffer like He suffered.
  • Every suffering now will turn to honor and glory in His presence. Everything detrimental now will be turned to future good.

How can I get through suffering?

  • Paul learned in his physical illness and weakness to depend upon God’s grace and strength. He found that he could rejoice in his sufferings and weakness, because when he was not depending on himself, he was forced to depend on Christ and His strength
  • We know that suffering for the believer is only temporary.
  • It is possible to have joy in the midst of difficulty and sorrow if we have a heavenly perspective. “If we endure, we will also reign with Him” (2 Timothy 2:12)
  • The presence of the risen Christ is a comfort. The revelation of Himself to us changes everything.

Key passage: Romans 8:31-39

  • We conquer through Him who loved us.
  • The proof of Christ’s love is His death for us, willingly suffering at the hand of both God and man the consequences of sin
  • Mankind has not changed. What they did to Christ, they will do to us
  • God didn’t spare His Son from suffering, though He loved Him dearly. God allows us to go through suffering as well
    • God has given man a free will, which He does not violate
    • God is not the source of evil–God is for us.
    • God comforts us in tribulation, supports us in it, and suffers with us in it
    • God’s kingdom has not yet come to fruition on earth, when He will set things right
  • God promises “all things,” a bright future after death, to those who trust Him. The proof of this is He gave Son for us. These promised blessings far outweigh present suffering (Rom 8:18).

Do we need to wait until we die to experience the effects of God’s love?

  • No; the Holy Spirit pours out the love of God in our hearts (Rom 5:5). This enabled Paul and Silas to rejoice and sing in prison after being beaten, the disciples to rejoice that they had been counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake, etc.
  • We also see God’s goodness in our lives, and experience the love of God through other believers as we willingly sacrifice for one another in the face of adversity. Difficult circumstances give us the opportunity to show what true love is by helping others in distress.
  • God does at times choose to miraculously deliver us and work in our lives, revealing that He is present with us in our suffering.

While we cannot expect to have “smooth sailing” all through life, we can depend upon the God of all grace for sufficient grace for every trial and the God of all comfort who feels for us and cares about us in every difficulty.

Please feel free to comment on how God has encouraged you in your suffering.

Pandemic, Plague and Promise

A pandemic like COVID-19 should cause us to step back and consider our lives, our loved ones, and our futures–as they relate to God and His message to us in the Holy Scriptures. While God is not the author of evil, He does design or allow everything for a purpose. This article aims to consider (in brief) a few of the many things that God would like us to learn from a situation like this, as well as verses we can turn to for instruction and hope.

Israel’s Plague

During a situation like this, I am reminded of 1 Chronicles 21 and the plague that killed 70,000 people of Israel in just three days. In verse 1, we are told that Satan provoked David to count the number of men in Israel’s army/reserves. That is to say, God allowed Satan to prey on David’s tendency for pride. It would seem that David wanted to take the census out of pride to see how many people were “under” him, and to determine how strong (in human terms) their nation was. Though we are not told explicitly, I would suggest that David’s attitude of pride and self-reliance was representative of Israel’s attitude as a nation. What we are told is that the LORD’s anger burned against Israel, which resulted in Him allowing Satan to tempt David to sin (2 Samuel 24:1). Thus, the results of David’s sin were felt throughout the whole nation.

What were the results of that sin of pride? God gave David three choices–three options for discipline. David responded, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” Thus, the destroying angel of God was sent to bring a plague upon Israel in response to their sin.

How was the plague stopped? God commanded David to offer a sacrifice, and when David offered the sacrifice, the LORD commanded the destroying angel to sheath his sword (verse 26-27). The Scriptures make a point of saying that this sacrifice was costly to David. He would not offer to God a “sacrifice” that cost him nothing.

Lessons to Ponder

God has given us Old Testament examples so that we can learn from them (Romans 15:4). What can we learn from this event in David’s life?

  1. God is working behind the scenes, and He is in control. Though we do not always understand the reason behind current circumstances, we can be assured that God has allowed it for a reason, and that He is in control.
  2. We are dependent upon God. Pride says I can do it myself. It displaces God. Humility and faith recognize that every living thing is created and sustained by our Almighty God. The glory belongs to Him. Without God and Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5).
  3. God is not the author of evil. Satan was the one who provoked David to sin, not God. James 1:13-14 (NASB) tells us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
  4. God is merciful. God administered the discipline, and though severe, it was administered with mercy and compassion (1 Chron. 21:15). The severity of the discipline was meant to teach us how very awful our sin and pride appears before a holy God. While God’s discipline seems sometimes to be harsh, He always disciplines in love, with a purpose for our good and to teach us something we need to know. Hebrews 12:5-6 (ESV) says, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.” It is sometimes necessary for God to go to extreme measures in order to get our attention. In His mercy He speaks to us and is interested in us.
  5. The way in which we respond to God’s discipline is important. David responded with repentance, acknowledging the seriousness of his sin, willingly accepting its consequences even if it meant his own death, praying for those under his care and leadership, and obeying God’s command to offer a sacrifice.
  6. Sin has consequences. God cannot overlook our sin. Sin breaks our fellowship with God and goes against His holy character.
  7. God’s answer for sin and its consequence is a sacrifice. David offered an animal sacrifice, because Christ had not yet come to be our final and sufficient once-for-all sacrifice. But God’s remedy for the consequences of sin has always been through sacrifice, made effectual to us through repentance and faith. Hebrews 9:27-28 (NKJV) says, “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” Christ, at tremendous cost, “by Himself” has already made purification for our sins, fully satisfying God’s requirements for their removal, without any input from mankind (Hebrews 1:3). What God requires of us is our acknowledgement that we are wrong and then the placing of our faith in what the Lord Jesus, His divine Son, has done for us. How wonderful it is that we have a righteous God who is also a merciful and loving God, who desires fellowship with us and also makes that fellowship possible through personal sacrifice!

One word of clarification

While we are told that God was angry with Israel, we are not told that all of those affected were affected as a direct result of their own sin. While we do know that sickness and sorrow in life are a result of the curse that came through Adam’s sin, just because I become sick or something “bad” happens to me does not necessarily mean that it is directly due to my personal sin. Nor can I point to an event in the life of someone else and say it is because of something they have done wrong. Sometimes we are called upon to suffer for the cause of Christ. Sometimes the way we respond to trials can be God’s way of sending a message of hope and assurance to others. God’s ways are “past finding out” and we must trust His character of love and grace, regardless of the circumstance or trial.

Scriptures of Promise and Hope

  • Nahum 1:7 (NKJV) “The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.”
  • Isaiah 55:6-7 (NLT) “Seek the LORD while you can find Him. Call on Him now while He is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the LORD that He may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously.”
  • Psalm 9:7-12, 17, 20 (NKJV) “But the LORD shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, And He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, A refuge in times of trouble. And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You. Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people. When He avenges blood, He remembers them; He does not forget the cry of the humble…. The wicked shall be turned into hell, And all the nations that forget God…. Put them in fear, O LORD, That the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah”
  • Psalm 118:8 (NKJV) “It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.”
  • John 11:25-26 (NKJV) “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.'”
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV) “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
  • Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  • 1 John 4:7-10 (NKJV) “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves [e.g. persistently loves, with a love like God’s for God and His people, v20-21] is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested [demonstrated] toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Closing Thoughts

Consider my life

  • Is there anything in my life that needs to be confessed as sin and forsaken?
  • Am I living my life wastefully for this moment, or prayerfully for the life hereafter?
  • Am I depending on God, or myself? Is Jesus my Lord and is God my Trust every day, or just in “emergencies”?
  • The Lord Jesus told us that we can (and should) go directly to God the Father, in His name, with our needs (John 16:23-24). The Father loves to bless those who trust in His Son. (See also Hebrews 10:19-22.)

Consider my neighbor

  • Do I care more about others than myself?
  • Am I willing to sacrifice for the good of others, as Jesus did?

Consider my future

  • Am I right with God? Do I have a loving relationship with God as my heavenly Father? Are my sins forgiven? If they are, Jesus says, “Do not let your heart be troubled” (John 14:1).


God has not forgotten us. He knows, and He cares. May we not forget Him.

Our Sharing Savior

I haven’t shared here for a long time. It is not that I have not been enjoying the Scriptures, for I have… Perhaps part of the reason is other responsibilities crowd into the time required to write. Perhaps another reason is I’m not sure why I’m writing. What started as a desire to exchange thoughts about Christ really is just an outlet for what I’ve appreciated about Him, with others listening in if they like. Will it continue? I don’t know… perhaps, if I still feel an urge to write and happen to have the moments to do so.

But our Lord Jesus never stops sharing. I find myself going back to John chapter 17 many times–a chapter full of the sharing, loving heart of the sent One as He speaks to His Father in heaven. His desire is to share what He is, has and enjoys with us. Having recently witnessed a wedding, His sharing took on another dimension that I thought someone else might enjoy enough to make an attempt to put it into words worthwhile.

So what things does He, our Maker and Redeemer, our Friend and Bridegroom, have, that He wishes to share with us?

1. My Peace.Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

The Lord had to leave His disciples, but He left them with His peace, and a promise of His return. What do we need if we are to enjoy real peace in a world of turmoil? I suggest that we at least need to have certainty in regard to our current and future security and well-being, assured through the knowledge that someone who cares for us is also able to provide for us. Now as to our position before God, in order to be safe, we need the knowledge that we are at peace with God, that our sin debt has been settled, and that nothing separates us from God’s presence any more. Our Lord Jesus satisfied that requirement when He died for our sins. And so our emotional peace can only come after our soul has found positional peace (union with God) in the cross-work of Christ. “My peace I give unto you.” So our eternal well-being comes from our Savior. He made peace by the blood of His cross.

But not only that, our Savior gives us peace in the experiences of life–emotional peace. This reminds me of various places where the word shadow is found in the Scriptures. Psalm 36:7 says, “How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.” I think of the Lord’s words in regard to Jerusalem in Luke 13:34: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!” Here, the Lord compares His care for a city (that should have received Him) to a hen’s care for her chicks, carefully gathering them under the shadow of her wings. He wanted to care for them not once nor twice, but how often! Such is His caring desire for the well-being of His own. A hen’s wings demonstrate care and refuge. All who come to Christ find His shadow to be a place of care and refuge.

Psalm 91:1 says, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Here we learn that our God provides protection to those who draw near and take refuge in Him.

Isaiah 32:2 “A man will be as a hiding place from the wind, And a cover from the tempest, As rivers of water in a dry place, As the shadow [or shade] of a great rock in a weary [or parched] land.” Our Lord provides for us cool refreshment and defense as does a great rock in a weary land.

Song of Solomon 2:3 “Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, So is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight, And his fruit was sweet to my taste.” As we sit under the shadow of our beloved Savior with great delight, His provision and presence is sweet to our soul.

So come, beloved, sit under His shadow, and enjoy the peace that He alone can give.

2. My Joy. “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves.” (John 17:13)

Our Lord imparts His joy to us through His Word. As we meditate upon His words to us and work them out in our lives, His joy is imparted to us. In John 15:9-11, that joy is linked with the knowledge of His love for us as we do what is pleasing to Him. Even amidst suffering, the Lord Jesus delighted to do the Father’s will, anticipating the joy of being glorified to the Father’s side and being united with His blood-bought bride (Hebrews 12:2).

3. My Glory. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one…. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:22, 24)

In what way does our Lord Jesus share His glory with us? We know that His divine glories are His alone. But the glory of sonship (relationship with the Father), a special place of blessing and privilege, and shared love and union with divine persons are some ways in which His glory is shared with us. In a future day, we will be glorified together with Him, made like Him (1 John 3:2), and reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). We are to sit with Him on His throne… He shares that with us! (Rev. 3:21)

4. [My] Father’s Word. “I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” (John 17:14)

The Word which He received from the Father He has shared with us. With the treasure of the Father’s words, He imparts to us wisdom, understanding, truth, revelation, promise.

5. Our Love. “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21)

The Father didn’t spare His own Son, but freely gave Him up for our sake (Romans 8:32). If the Father was willing to give His most precious possession for us, then we can be sure that He will withhold no blessing that would be for our good. That same love that is shared between the Father and the Son is also shared with us! The Son is willing to share the Father’s love with us, and the Father is willing to share His Son with us. How overwhelmingly wonderful this truth is.

6. My Father. “go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ” (John 20:17)

Akin to the previous point, the Son of God calls us family– His Father is now our Father, and He calls us brethren. While He retains a special place as the only-begotten Son of the Father, yet we are brought in to share in a relationship which He has enjoyed from eternity past. This is so deep that only faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can take it in (Romans 8:16).

 7. My Body. My Blood. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20) “For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. ” (1 Cor. 10:17) “For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ” (Ephesians 5:30)

How much more can one give, or how much closer can one get than one’s own body? In giving His own body for us upon the cross of Calvary, and shedding His own blood as a perfect payment for our sin, He made union with Himself possible, through faith.

8. [My] Inheritance, Wealth. “…that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel” (Ephesians 3:6) “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4) “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:16-18)

He became poor, humbling Himself to the cross death, to make us [spiritually] rich. The wealth we receive because of His sufferings is beyond compare. As children of God, He shares with us an eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:4), as the Father makes us co-heirs with Him. We share His Father’s house (John 17:24, John 14:2) and His Throne (Revelation 3:21), inheriting a place in His eternal kingdom. Now isn’t that worthy of a bit of trials and toil here and now?

9. [My] Sufferings. “but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” (1 Peter 4:13)

We move to a different viewpoint as we consider our sharing Savior. If we are to share in His future glory, then it follows that we will share something of His sufferings for the present as well. We rejoice even in sufferings, recognizing that just as Christ was glorified, so we, too shall be glorified together with Him. Our short time on this earth is our opportunity to prove our love to Him in the face of trials and hardship.

10. My Yoke. My Heart. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

As we work side by side with Him, sharing the yoke which He as well carries, we come to know Him better in His meek and lowly character, and we find rest of soul in the midst of toil of body.

11. My Name. “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26) “He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

When a bride is married, she receives a new name. We, as the bride of Christ, have already received a new name as children of God, but there awaits a special time of full identification with our Bridegroom in a future day, when He will reveal Himself to us in a special, personal way. What a day that will be!


Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Our Puerto Rico

I read about Puerto Rico this morning. The island in shambles after hurricane Maria. The people desperate for water. Supplies available, but how to get them to the people who need them? No electricity a widespread problem, with some places potentially without power for the next month. Communication difficult or impossible. A crisis.

Thinking on such a crisis this morning, the thought came to me… we have just as big a crisis in the United States as they have in Puerto Rico, but the big problem many have is they don’t know they are in the crisis. The water of God’s word is available to them, but they are not drinking it. The power of God is ready to save them, but they aren’t asking for it. Communication with God is broken. Men and women are perishing daily without a Savior. Some were told that they were in danger. Others perhaps were not. Some pray to a Maria who cannot save while others are totally or willfully oblivious to their danger. And a bigger hurricane of God’s righteous indignation is coming. If we were to look on the spiritual state of the United States, it would look worse than hurricane-torn Puerto Rico. What a crisis!

Eclipse… light triumphs

Today’s eclipse reminds me of other periods of darkness in this world’s history. God’s judgment on Egypt was seen through a period of darkness over all the land of Egypt for three days. This earth is a land of the shadow of death, a place where sin abounds, destined for judgment. It was into this same world that Christ, the Light of the world, came, illuminating and revealing God to men. Through death, He endured the judgment of God, where in three monumental hours, a physical darkness covered the whole land, silently declaring that the weight of the sin of the whole world was being placed upon the holy Lamb of God. But Christ came out of that darkness victorious; the way into God’s presence was opened and the temple veil rent; and out of death He rose gloriously triumphant on the third day, then to seat Himself at the right hand of the throne of God. Light has triumphed over darkness, and that same gospel light shines into the hearts of people today to bring salvation to all who put their faith in the One who went through that darkness for them.


And the LORD said unto Moses, “Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt.” And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days (Exodus 10:21-22)

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. (Isaiah 9:2)

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is, being interpreted, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” …And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the [spirit]. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the [spirit], he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:33-39)

Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, “Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first.” Pilate said unto them, “Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.” So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matt 27:62-28:6)

Binding and Loosing

I’m enjoying some thoughts from a Greek Grammar by William Mounce called “Basics of Biblical Greek” (Zondervan 2003). A quote in that work is as follows…

“In some translations of Matthew 18:18, it sounds like Jesus promised His disciples that whatever they bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven. In other words, they had the power to bind and loose, and Heaven (i.e. God) would simply back up their decrees. But the matter is not quite so simple; the actions described in heaven are future perfect passives-which could be translated “will have already been bound in heaven… will have already been loosed in heaven.” In other words, the heavenly decree confirming the earthly one is based on a prior verdict.

This is the language of the law court. Jewish legal issues were normally decided in Jesus’ day by elders in the synagogue community (later by rabbis). Many Jewish people believed that the authority of Heaven stood behind the earthly judges when they decided cases based on a correct understanding of God’s law. (This process came to be called “binding and loosing.”) Jesus’ contemporaries often envisioned God’s justice in terms of a heavenly court; by obeying God’s law, the earthly court simply ratified the decrees of the heavenly court. In Matthew 18:15-20, Christians who follow the careful procedures of verses 15-17 may be assured that they will act on the authority of God’s court when they decide cases.

Just as we struggle to affirm absolutes in a relativist culture, Christians today sometimes wonder how to exercise discipline lovingly against a sinning member of the church. In this text, Jesus provides an answer: when the person refuses to turn from sin after repeated loving confrontation, the church by disciplining the person simply recognizes the spiritual reality that is already true in God’s sight.

– Craig S. Keener

The Word Became Flesh

I’m enjoying some thoughts from a Greek Grammar by William Mounce called “Basics of Biblical Greek” (Zondervan 2003). A quote in that work is as follows. Sit back and take it in… and worship.

A casual first-century reader of the fourth gospel’s prologue (John 1:1-18) would have little difficulty understanding John’s description of the Logos (Word). As a concept it was simple enough. Logos was the intelligible law of things. The Logos of God was God’s transcendent rationality that gave the universe order and purpose. A Hellenized Jew would quickly reach for a volume of wisdom literature explaining that God’s wisdom, His word (or logos), provided the universe with its form and coherence. As such the Logos of God was foreign to human ways, above us and distant from us, guiding us from afar.

John 1:14, on the other hand, would make any such reader pause in stunned silence. “And the Word became flesh (sarx) and dwelt among us.” Sarx is the earthly sphere, the arena of human decisions and emotions, human history, and human sinfulness (cf. John 1:13; 3:6; 17:2, etc.). John 1:14 contains the risk, the scandal, and the gospel of the Christian faith: the Logos became sarx. The center of God’s life and thought entered the depths of our world and took up its form, its sarx, its flesh, in order to be known by us and to save us.

This affirmation about logos and sarx is the very heart of our faith. God has not abandoned us. No lowliness, no misery, no sinfulness is beyond God’s comprehension and reach. He came among us, embraced our world of sarx in His incarnation, and loved us. It is easy enough to say that God loves the world (John 3:16). But to say that God loves me, in my frailty and my faithlessness–that He loves sarx–this is another matter. This is the mystery and the power of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

– Gary M. Burge