devotional

26MAY
2013

Mountains and Valleys

 

I haven’t written to you in a bit due to some difficult but necessary website upgrades. Please pardon the absence.

     I greatly mean to encourage anyone reading this by writing these devotionals. One ditch many fall into is the idea that the Christian life is always supposed to be some great mountaintop of joy and fellowship with God. Sometimes it is, but Christian there are two ideas I want to speak briefly with you about here today: 1) there are things you cannot learn on the mountaintop. They can only be learned in the valley. 2) There are some things we suffer that are just not necessary. 

     Paul once wrote to the Corinthian believers: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life,” 2 Corinthians 1:8. What do you think Paul would say to you at this time if you asked him? Do you think that if you greeted him with our customary western, “How are you?” that he’d respond as we do with another short, “How you doing?” I don’t know, maybe he would as you passed him in the markets, but if you talked with him you’d know that he was not at that moment in the third heaven of 2 Corinthians 12, but in a valley. Suffering is promised in this life to the believer. 

     I strongly suspect that most of our “suffering” in this day, land and age, however, is due simply to our own selfish discontentment. This worries me in my own life. It’s a strange part of the fallen condition that we always want more than we’ve got. If my daughters had only one toy I doubt they’d be as discontent as they sometimes are now having hundreds. Rejoice in what you have. Sometimes I truly believe it’s just a decision we must make. We make it by a concerted effort to truly estimate our lives under God. Look at what you’ve accumulated in life and be content. You’ll take none of it with you. 

     Now, if we suffer after a good thing then we truly are learning discipleship by it. If we suffer when others suffer, suffer persecution for Christ’s name, suffer under temptation and resist the devil through it and such like then we’ll see that these things bring us closer both to where God wishes us to be as a son or daughter of His, but also where our own new hearts desperately wish to be. 

     Paul continues 2 Corinthians 1:9 with: “Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.” Paul’s trials produced this knowledge in him and his comrades. If our trials do not produce greater recognition or focus on similar Christian realities in our lives then I suspect they’re not worth suffering, and rather stem from our own selfishness or some other silliness. 

     “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together,” Romans 8:16-17.

     Suffer well, dear one. Suffer after a good thing and unto a good end. We all will. No one is any different. Perhaps you're in a valley today because it's the best place for you to learn something new about Jesus. Learn it.

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