Suffering is Your Opportunity to Show Your Quality (Part 8)

“Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” Ex. 20:3

This is the classic struggle since the dawn of mankind, letting God be God as He reveals Himself and not making Him in our own mind or with our hands, to our own liking, fashioning Him to be like us.

We just love to play creator. Everything you create you control. If you are the designer then you can decide its purpose and function. Wouldn’t you love to make a god who serves your purpose and functions according to your will? It is the latent desire, often unconfessed and unknown of every natural man. Perhaps that is why God made it the very first of His commandments.

No! We are not the creator, God the Father-Creator has made us with His purpose and function in mind. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Gen. 1:26. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Eph. 4:10…  “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son” Rom 8:29… “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” John 1:12… “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Rom 8:14… “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory” Heb. 2:10. “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Rom. 8:17. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.” 2 Tim. 2:12.

This whole denial business is the crux of suffering. The dictionary says that suffering is experiencing something unpleasant. We consider having and doing what we want pleasant or pleasing. It is the denial of what we want to have and do that is an experience of suffering. God will not make you suffer beyond what you are able. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” 1 Cor. 10:13. Because of this many are not brought to suffering – they can bear so little – and few are brought to the image of Christ.

Jesus taught that if you would be His disciple (e.g. walk in His footsteps and become His representative of His Way) you must deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. You must say no to what you want to have and do – your will – and seek His will. The question is will you deny yourself or will you deny Him before others?

It is very unlikely that you will face the type of self-denial and testing of faith that Job did. He was brought through a terrible ordeal, but his Father knew he could handle it. Few will go this far, but some, choice specimens will be given the honor of suffering for Him and God will glorify Himself through them.

And who is chosen to manifest the glory of God? Those who know Him, who will not shrink back. “Those who know their God will do mighty exploits”. Just survey the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11 and you will see that it could just as easily be titled the Hall of Suffering and Self Denial.

“Choosing rather to suffer affliction (v.25)… Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt (v.26)… forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king (v.27)… And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:  Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,  Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:  And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;  (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (vv.32-38).

That is a whole lot of faith, a whole lot of self-denial, a whole lot of suffering going on.

How did these do it? How did Job pass through his fire? There was a refining, a gradual burning away of the self, a dying. Know God, know peace. The Peace that passes understanding gives us the victory. And this is the victory, even our faith, even the proof and testimony given through our suffering, even our death to self. Not my will, but Thy will be done.

Suffering is your opportunity to show your quality.