My best friend and her husband are relocating to another part of our town. As we talked about the strenuous task of preparing for the move, I asked her to tell me about her plan for a smooth transition. The first step was to identify all of the things that were no longer a useful part of their lives and eliminate them, either by donating or throwing them away.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1
Believers in God, we are also preparing to move. God has promised us life in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Although we are making preparation by faithfully trusting in God, obeying His precepts, studying the Bible, and praying, God is actively involved in preparing us to achieve spiritual perfection. And that is where suffering enters our lives. God sees and knows the things that are not useful in our characters. He begins to get rid of the traits that would prevent us from receiving our greatest reward, immortality in a perfect and beautiful New Heaven and New Earth.
Do you think about the journey more than you think about the reward?
Now let’s do some real talk about the process of getting rid of our sins and undesirable traits. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. Yes, Jesus told us that we would suffer many trials and sorrows, but to “take heart” because He overcame every burden, all suffering, and difficulties through His earthly journey.
Jesus’ death was for you and me. Now that He is fulfilling the role of our Heavenly Intercessor remember these words: “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
What is the meaning of “take heart?” It means to “Be courageous!” So, in one scripture, we are forewarned that we will have many trials and sorrows, but to have peace and courage because Jesus, our Lord, has promised to see us through. I will be the first to testify that suffering does not feel good. I often wish that I had a delete option to get rid of the impurities in my character. When I feel down, God reminds me that He is fulfilling His plans for my spiritual makeover. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 BSB
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.… Romans 5:3-5 BSB
Through constant prayer, praise, and worship, I am slowly beginning to have an in-depth understanding and acceptance of “the why of suffering.” I pray for each of us that we will focus on the triumph of our faith when we embrace God’s plan for our spiritual perfection.
One of my very dear Sisters-in-Christ, Lori Fish, shared this testimony in 2017:
After lunch today, several of us were sitting in the living room talking, and the conversation steered to Salvation, Bible study, and how crazy our world is.
I was reminded of one of my Bible Teachers at Maplewood Academy. It was my junior year. His name was Dale Rhodes, I believe, and he and his wife had been missionaries for years in Singapore if I remember correctly. During class one day, he made a statement that has stuck with me to this day. Our senses are the five avenues to the soul. We won’t make it to heaven by making decisions based on our feelings.
We cannot make spiritual decisions without studying for ourselves and make sure we ask the Holy Spirit to show us the facts. So often, we make decisions because “it seems right.” Our sinful human nature takes in all that worldly knowledge through the five avenues, and we try to choose things based on all that rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to guide us through the truth – God’s Word. My prayer is that I won’t let my senses get in the way of my salvation. How about you? Lori Fish
This beautiful prayer of thanksgiving was posted on Facebook:
Heavenly Father, thank you for anticipating my needs and knowing what is best for me. Being Your child has been my happiness, and I can’t wait to see Your loving face and spend eternity with You! In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen! (Name deleted)
Our perspective of suffering will either propel us to gain the victory or lose out on our eternal reward. It is my prayer that each of us embraces God’s promises:
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isaiah 43:1-3
Bible Reading: Isaiah 43
God, we come before you with praise and thanksgiving for loving us. Thank you for your grace and mercies of patiently taking the time to reveal our character defects and guiding us through our suffering. Please give us the wisdom to recognize that you are performing a mighty work within that we may be ready when Jesus comes again to gather the faithful and the obedient. We ask for forgiveness for not accepting your plans for our lives. We trust you to take us through the deep waters and to come out as victorious overcomers. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
© Sonya Johnson Ruiz 2020, No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial purposes without the written permission of the author.