Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with Fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. Daniel 3:19 ESV
As a believer, we usually have less than the world’s standards for material possessions. We have our share of mountain highs and valley lows. It appears to others that we are always experiencing some type of trial and tribulation, although we serve God. And yes, there are plenty of biblical accounts which reflect the sufferings and hardships of those who are faithful to God.
From experience, if the journey involves a rugged path, why do we continue to travel on this path? Surely there is an easier road that leads to a less tedious journey and a brighter future.
There are certain changes that occur in our lives when we travel the path paved with hardships:
1. We experience change; our character must align with Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.”
2. We live with hope. We believe that our current earthly journey is temporary, and that Jesus will come again to give us a new home and eternal life.
Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3
3. We believe that we are never alone.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalms 91:11
The Lord himself goes before you, he will be with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, and the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
4. We accept that God’s standards for happiness are very different from the worldly standards for happiness.
Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers. 3 John 1:2
…Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the Lord thy God has given unto thee…Deuteronomy 26:11
Even so, we must distinguish the difference between sufferings for God and sufferings due to a continuous pattern of making the wrong choices, backsliding into the same situation once we have been delivered, or simply because we did not wait for God’s answers and solutions.
How can we avoid self-inflicted suffering? By staying rooted and grounded in a closer relationship with God through continuous prayer, and study of His Word.
God is with us…our challenge is to stay with God.
Challenge for today: Only suffer for God! Pray for guidance if you are unable to discern the difference.
Prayer for today: Dear God, We have endured many hardships in our lives. We ask you for the spiritual discernment to know the difference between self-inflicted suffering and suffering for you. We believe that you will give us strength to keep moving forward. In your Holy name, we pray. Amen.
Sonya Johnson Ruiz