I recently bought several books. I found one Christian writer who I enjoyed, which led to another, which led to another, and so on. After a week of Amazon deliveries, I had about a dozen books that I wanted to read. I told my husband as I stared at my stack of books, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could absorb all this information in an instant?” And that’s when 1 Peter 4.13 popped into my mind.
“But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4.13 NIV) (emphasis added).
I can’t gain the information without turning each page. I can’t enjoy the glory (the highest manifestation of God’s best) without the suffering.
So many times we think of the suffering as only the actual Crucifixion, and the thought becomes so overwhelming that we dismiss the possibility of Christ’s glory in our lives because the Cross seems unattainable to us. But the Cross is the ultimate demonstration of each choice we make each day–both big and small. The Cross is a lifestyle of “suffering” through difficulty with joy because we see the victory of glory on the other side of it.
I spend time exercising for the joy of highest manifestation of health.
I spend time with my family for the joy of the highest manifestation of relationship.
I spend time reading my Bible for the joy of the highest manifestation of wisdom.
I spend time with the Lord for the joy of the highest manifestation of intimacy.
I spend time serving others for the joy of the highest manifestation of Christlikeness.
The reward outshines the work, and I have joy because I envision the end result.
“Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29.18 ESV).
Suffering is a choice we make every day. We will not have the highest without the struggle. It seems like an oxymoron, and it is that glory cannot manifest without the suffering. But this is what Jesus exemplified in His life. He Who is Divine became Servant to all. The King became the Slave (Philippians 2.7). We must not run away from suffering, especially the small choices we make every day. God can use every single second spent in prayer, in a book, in family time, in excercise and in service to establish His highest glory in your life.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12.2 NLT).