I recieve a daily devotional by Joni Eareckson Tada into my email inbox, and today's was a really good one that I thought I'd share with you all!
Life Ain't Easy ~ Joni Eareckson Tada
"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God."
Everyone who takes the Bible seriously, and many who don't, agree that God hates suffering. Jesus spent much of His short life relieving it. Scores of passages tell us to feed the hungry, clothe the poor, visit inmates, and speak up for the helpless. When we feel compassion for people in distress, we know that God felt it first. He shows this by raising sick people from their beds -- sometimes to the wonder of doctors, in answer to prayer. Every day He grants childless women babies, pulls small-business owners out of financial pits, protects Alzheimer's patients crossing the street, and writes happy endings to sad situations. Even when He has to punish sin, He says it gives Him no pleasure (Ezekiel 18:32). In heaven, Eden's curse will be canceled. Sighs and longings will be historical curiosities. Tears will evaporate. Tissue companies will go broke.
But it simply doesn't follow that God's only relationship to suffering is to relieve it. He specifically says that all who follow Him can expect hardship. But didn't Jesus hang on a cross so we wouldn't have to suffer hell? Yes, but not so we wouldn't have to suffer here -- on earth. Listen to the Bible on this:
"I will show [Paul] how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9:16).
"For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ... to suffer for him... " (Philippians 1:29).
The Bible goes even further. After calling Christians "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ" it adds -- "if indeed we share in his sufferings." In other words, no one goes to Christ's heaven who doesn't first share Christ's sufferings. Do you think you should be exempt from suffering? Listen to this final word from Hebrews 5:8, "Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered..." This week, purpose in your heart to be no greater than your Master. If He suffered, you can expect it too.
May I learn obedience through the hard thing I'm going through right now, God.
If you want to recieve Joni's devotionals too, you can go to http://www.joniandfriends.org/daily-devotional/ and sign up to recieve it. :)