Peace and Hope in Suffering

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” – Hebrews 11:1

The great chapter on faith in the Bible is Hebrews, chapter 11. It begins, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

What is often overlooked in this chapter, though, is the final eight verses where we get the balanced picture of faith as that which lays hold on God for rescue from suffering and as that which lays hold on God for peace and hope in suffering.

Verse 33 says “By faith they conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection…”

Now if we stopped reading here our conception of how the quality of faith manifests itself would be very distorted, because here it sounds as if faith always wins in this life.

But here a shift occurs and we find that faith is also the power to lose our life: “By faith … others were tortured, not accepting release, in order that they might obtain a better resurrection; others experienced mocking and scourging, yes, also chains and imprisonment.

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheep skins, in goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy) wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground . . . And all these gained approval through their faith. . . ”

The glory of God is manifested when He heals, and when he gives a sweet spirit of hope and peace to the person that He does not heal, for that, too, is a miracle of grace! O, that we might be a people among whom God is often healing our sicknesses, but is always causing us to be full of joy and peace while our sickness remains.

If we are a humble and childlike people who cry out to God in our need and trust in His promises, the Holy Spirit will help us and God will bless us with every possible blessing. He will, as the text says, work everything together for our good.

– John Piper

Joy In All Circumstances

Joy Comes From Being In Christ

It’s natural for people to be happy when things go well. But the Christian’s joy doesn’t come from earthly circumstances, it comes from being “in Christ” (Rom 15:17).

Christians think more of their Lord than their difficulties; more of their spiritual riches in Christ than their poverty on earth; more of the glorious future when their Lord should come again than of their unhappy past. (Rom 8:38-39)

God’s Purpose Is Being Worked Out

Christianity turns a person’s thoughts away from themselves and onto the great God who has saved them in Christ our Savior.

When a person comes to see that God in Christ has saved him, everything changes. He now realizes that God’s purpose is being worked out. He sees evidence of this in his own life and in the lives of those around him.

This leads the Christian to understand that a loving purpose is being worked out even during hard times (Rom 8:28). When he comes to see God’s hand in all things he learns to give thanks for all things and have joy in all circumstances.

– Leon Morris

7 Ways God Loves Us

1) God loves us with Atoning love.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (Jhn 3:16-17)

God’s love for us is what motivated Him to send Christ into the world to save us. Christ paid for our sins, which had separated us from Him. This sacrifice not only brings us peace with God, it also brings us into a personal, loving relationship with Him. (Rom 5:1-5)

God’s atoning love through Christ is the source of all our spiritual blessings.

2) God loves us with Calling love.

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9)

Another way God shows His love for us is by calling us out of the darkness of sin and into the light of fellowship with Him.

Even more, because God has called us to Himself, He promises to protect that relationship (Jhn 10:28) and never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5, 1 Thes 5:23-25)

God’s calling love is a promise to always be with us.

3) God loves us with Redeeming love.

“God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Rom 8:3-4)

Because of our sinful nature, we have no power to fulfill God’s law. But God’s love is shown through Christ who redeemed, or paid, the price we owed for our rebellion. (Gal 3:13)

God’s redeeming love frees us from guilt and fear.

4) God loves us with Justifying love.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Rom 3:23-25)

God’s love is shown by justifying us (or declaring us innocent) by grace through faith in Christ. Christ is treated as if he were the sinner, and the sinner is treated as if he were the righteous one. God now sees us through Christ’s righteousness instead of through our sin.

God’s justifying love allows us to stand accepted before Him.

5) God loves us with Adopting love.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Rom 8:15)

God shows His love for us by not only forgiving us of our sins, but by going even further and bringing us into His family. He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints. (Col 1:12) This inheritance includes salvation, strength, hope, peace, comfort, providence, fellowship and so much more!

God’s adopting love allows us to call Him “Father”.

6) God loves us with Sanctifying love.

“We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb 10:10)

Still another way God also shows His love is by sanctifying, or setting us apart, for His purpose. We’re sanctified in two ways: positionally and progressively.

We’re sanctified “positionally” when we come to Christ. In the Old Testament the priests would continually make sacrifices because they never permanently paid for sin. But Christ offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice and has paid for our sins once and for all. So we’ve sanctified, or set apart, to obtain salvation through Christ.

We’re also sanctified “progressively” throughout our Christian lives. Progressive sanctification isn’t about our salvation — we’re saved by grace and not by works (Eph 2:8-9) — it’s about how we live after we’ve been saved.

Progressive sanctification is the process of dying to sin and living for Christ by becoming more like Him. It’s about producing the fruits of the Spirit as opposed to producing the fruits of the flesh. (Gal 5:19-23)

God’s sanctifying love sets us apart for His special plans.

7) God loves us with Glorifying love.

“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:1-2)

Finally, God shows His love by glorifying us. Throughout our lives we’ll wrestle with sin, but we’re promised that the good work God begins in us will be completed. (Phil 1:6) When we go to be with the Lord our sinful nature will be left behind and we’ll like Him, and with Him, forever.

God’s glorifying love is the ultimate destination for Christians.

God Of The Broken-Hearted

“The Lord is near the broken-hearted.” – Psalm 34:18

The world cares very little for broken hearts, but the God of the Bible is the God of the broken-hearted.

People often break the heart’s of other by their cruelty, their falseness, their injustice and their coldness. But God cares. Broken-heartedness draws Him down from heaven.

Doctors don’t treat the healthy but the sick. It’s the same with God. It’s not to the whole and the well, but to the broken and the wounded, that He comes with sweetest tenderness. Jesus said of His mission: “He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted.” (Isaiah 61:1)

God repairs and restores the hurt and ruined life. He takes the bruised reed and, by His gentle skill, makes it whole again until it grows into fairest beauty.

The love, pity, and grace of God ministers sweet blessings of comfort and healing to restore the broken and wounded hearts of His people. The God of the Bible is the God of those brought low, whom He lifts up into His strength.

God is the God of those who fail — not that He loves those who stumble and fall better than those who walk without stumbling — but He helps them more. The weak believers get more of His grace than those who are strong believers.

There is a special divine promise which says, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9) When we are aware of our own insufficiency, then we are ready to receive His divine sufficiency. And so our very weakness is an element of strength. Our weakness is an empty cup which God fills with His own strength.

You may think that your weakness disqualifies you for noble, strong, beautiful living, or for sweet, gentle, helpful serving. But really it’s something which, if you give it to Christ, He can transform into a blessing, a source of His power.

– J. R. Miller

Strength For Today

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

You can overcome whatever you’re going through — not by your strength, or your wisdom, or your prayers, or your experience — but through God’s grace.

His free, His matchless grace, independent of all works and efforts, independent of everything in us, flowing wholly and solely, fully and freely, out from Jesus to the needy, the guilty, the destitute, the undone.

You who are tried in worldly circumstances, remember what the Lord has said…

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

His grace is sufficient for you who are tempted.

“God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

His grace is sufficient for you who are burdened with family troubles, afflictions, and worry.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” (Ps 34:18-19)

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

Our weakness, helplessness, and inability are the very things which draw forth the power, the strength, and the grace of Jesus!

“My power is made perfect in your weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

Believer, never forget the words:

“My grace is sufficient for you!”

The free, the matchless, sovereign grace of God, is sufficient for all His people whatever state, or stage, or trouble, or difficulty they may be in!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matt 11:28)

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in your weakness.”

Dealing With Failure

“Rise, let us be going…” – Matthew 26:46

The disciples went to sleep when they should have kept awake, and when they realized what they had done it produced despair in them.

When we feel something is beyond repair it can cause us to despair, and we say, “It’s all over now, there’s no use trying any more.” If we think that this kind of despair is rare, we’re mistaken, it’s a very common human experience.

Whenever we realize that we’ve missed out on a magnificent opportunity Jesus Christ comes and says, “That opportunity is lost forever, you cannot alter it, but arise and go to the next thing.” Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the future with Him.

There are experiences like this in each of our lives. We find ourselves in despair and we cannot lift ourselves out of it. The disciples in this instance had done a downright unforgivable thing — they had gone to sleep instead of watching with Jesus, but He said to them “Arise and do the next thing.”

If we’re Christians, what is the next thing? It’s to trust Him absolutely and to pray on the ground of His Redemption. Never let the sense of failure keep you from moving forward with Christ.

– Oswald Chambers

Where To Put Your Troubles

Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall. – Psalm 55:22

Put your troubles where you have put your sins. You have put your sins onto Jesus — put your troubles there also!

As soon as the trouble comes tell it to your Father in heaven! Remember, the longer you take telling your trouble to God, the longer you will wait for peace. The longer the frost lasts, the more likely the ponds will be frozen.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matt 11:28)

Putting your burden upon the Lord is the way to soothe sorrow. Oh, troubled Christians, don’t dishonor your faith by always wearing a frown of concern. Come, put your burden upon the Lord.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)

You are staggering beneath a weight that He would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden would be nothing but a bit of dust to Him. The Almighty bends His shoulders, and He says to you, “Put your troubles here!”

– C.H. Spurgeon

Finding Rest In Jesus

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Those of us who are saved find rest in Jesus. Those who are not saved will receive rest if they come to Him, for He promises to give it. Let us gladly accept what He gladly gives.

You’re not to buy it, nor borrow it, but to receive it as a gift. You labor under the weight of ambition, covetousness, lust, or anxiety – Jesus will set you free from this iron bondage and give you rest.

You’re burdened with sin, fear, worry, remorse, fear of death – but if you come to Him He will unload you. He carried the crushing mass of our sin so that we no longer have to carry it.

Jesus gives rest. Will you believe it? Will you put it to the test? Will you do so at once? Come to Jesus by quitting every other hope, by thinking of Him, believing God’s testimony about Him, and trusting everything with Him.

If you come to Him the rest He gives you will be deep, safe, holy, and everlasting. He gives a rest which develops into heaven, and He gives it this day to all who come to Him.

– Charles Spurgeon

The Strength To Carry On

There is a truth about Christian living which, if people knew it, would make all of life easier for them. The truth is this: Whatever trial or task comes our way in life, we will receive the strength we need to face it. There are several promises that give this assurance.

One reads, “your strength will equal your days.” (Deut 33:25) This seems to mean that the help which God gives, varies according to the tasks and trials of the particular day. God fits His blessing to our days.

When we are weak, He increases strength. (Isa 40:29)
When we are sorrowful, He gives comfort. (2 Cor 1:3-6)
When we are in danger, He grants protection. (Ps 32:7)
When we are weary, He gives rest. (Mtt 11:28)

Another of Christ’s promises reads, “My grace is sufficient for you.” (Cor 12:9) Every word of this assurance shines with brilliant light.
“My grace is sufficient for you.”

It is Christ’s grace that is sufficient. We know that He has all Divine fullness, and so we are sure that no human need can ever exhaust His power to give help!

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

It is Christ’s grace that is sufficient. If it were anything else but grace, it might not give us such comfort. Grace is undeserved favor, goodness shown to the unworthy. We deserve nothing because we are sinners, but it is Christ’s grace which is sufficient, and so we can claim it.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

His grace “IS” sufficient. Christ is always speaking personally to the one who is in any need, and saying, “My grace IS sufficient for you.”

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

The word “sufficient” is one whose meaning expands and amplifies with the measure of the need. No need is so small that it can’t be included; and none is so great that it can go beyond the capacity of the blessing that is promised.

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

The grace is sufficient for each of His redeemed children. “For you” the promise is made.

Life lies before us, with its burdens, its duties, its responsibilities, its struggles, its perplexities. It does not come to us all at once. God breaks our years into months and weeks and days, and never gives us more than we can bear or do for the day.

If we take up the present duty or burden we shall always have strength to do it. If we do not have strength of our own, we don’t need to falter because even if the task is impossible to our ability He will sustain us by giving us all the help we need.

– J.R. Miller

Do You Think God Cannot Love You?

Mention any sin you like, and I will assure you that people have committed the same sins and have been saved.

Think of David, who’s committed adultery and murder… that didn’t stop God’s love from flowing to him.

Or think of the case of Manasseh; he shed innocent blood very much; he bowed before idols; he put his own child to death as a sacrifice to the false god, and yet God’s love laid hold upon him, and Manasseh became a bright star in heaven, though once as vile as the lost in hell.

And again…Paul says he was the chief of sinners, and he meant it; he spoke by inspiration, and there is no doubt he was.

Now if the greatest of sinners has passed through the strait gate, there must be room for the next greatest; if the greatest sinner in the world has been saved, then there is a possibility for you and for me, because we cannot be worse sinners than the very chief of sinners.

God doesn’t refuse to love us because there is sin in us. If there is anything in you, then, that makes you think God cannot love you, I reply, “Impossible!” for surely your sins do not exceed those of the chief of sinners.

But I will dare to say that even if we were, even if we could exceed Paul, even that could be no barrier; for man’s sin is the act of a finite creature, but God’s grace is the act of infinite goodness.

God forbid that I should downplay your sin. They are loathsome, they are hellish in themselves. But the grace, the love, and the pity of God, oh! these are infinite, eternal, everlasting, boundless, matchless, unconquerable, and therefore the grace of God can overcome and prove itself mightier than your guilt and sin.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

…go and sin no more. (John 8:11)

– Charles Spurgeon