Thursday, May 5, 2011

Suffering Prepares Us To Meet God

by Joni Eareckson Tada

Used With Permission From Heaven, Your Real Home Publisher

Suppose you had never in your life known physical pain. No sore back, twisted ankle, or decayed molars. What if you never had to use those crutches or that walker? How could you appreciate the scarred hands with which Christ will greet you.

For "we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory." (Romans 8:17)

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:11)

If our perfect Savior endured suffering, why do we feel betrayed when we experience hardships?

Perhaps we would bite our complaining tongues more often if we stopped to picture the scene in heaven. The examples of other suffering saints are meant to inspire us upward on our heavenly journey home. I love reading the biographies of missionaries like Amy Carmichael or J. Hudson Taylor, people who considered it a privilege to bear their sufferings with grace so they might share in Christ's glory.

Suppose you had never in your life known emotional pain. No stained reputation. No bruised feelings. No pangs of guilt. What if no one had ever offended you deeply? How could you adequately express your gratitude when you approach the Man of Sorrows who was acquainted with grief?

If you were never embarrassed or felt ashamed, you could never grasp how much He loved you when He endured the spit from soldiers, the spinelessness of His disciples, the callousness of the crowd, and the jeers from the mob. All for the love of you.

Lastly, suppose you had never in your life known the struggle against sin. He took your shameful sins and made them His. You will be able to say, "Lord, I'm grateful that I felt the piercing stab of guilt. I can better appreciate how You were wounded by sin on the Cross!"

I want to be as happy as possible in heaven. Bishop Ryle is on target when he warns, "Heaven is a holy place. Its inhabitants are all holy. Its occupations are all holy. To be really happy in heaven, it stands to reason...our hearts must be somewhat in tune, somewhat ready for it." How could we be thrilled to meet the Lord face-to-face after clinging on earth to the very sins for which He died? It is impossible to hold onto sinful habits while, at the same time, holding on to the desire to touch the nail-scarred hands of Christ. No one can hope for heaven while consciously clutching onto sins he knows to be offensive.

True, holy living is rugged and demanding, but its heavenly rewards are precious. The entire seventh chapter of Romans assures us holy living will always be a struggle, but think of it as the best way of showing love to Christ! I want to cut away every sin that entangles.

When you meet Jesus face-to-face, your loyalty in your hardships will give you something tangible, something concrete to offer Him in return. For what proof could you bring of your love and faithfulness if this life left you totally unscarred?

© Used With Permission From Heaven, Your Real Home Publisher

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