Monday, July 29, 2013


Week 31:

I Peter 5:9b ...because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
It is not unusual for us as Christians to suffer for the sake of Christ.  In fact, throughout the Bible we read of the sufferings we will face or the sufferings the people of God faced.  God called us to be different.  That difference goes against this world, the culture we live in, and ultimately what the evil one is attempting to accomplish.

Because of our stand to de different, suffering will occur.  We will be persecuted to some degree in our walk.  Some will face much more persecution than others.  We will face temptations because the evil one does not want us to be redeemed.  When I live in the Spirit, evil follows closely behind waiting on me to fall or slip.  Whatever the challenge may be, it is a given that I will suffer in some way for the cause of Christ. 
What a comfort there is in this passage to know that I am not alone in my sufferings.  Throughout the world others are facing similar struggles.  When I read about others sufferings and when I hear in groups other’s stories; I am constantly reminded that I am not alone in my sufferings.  I am also told, through God’s word, that I am blessed to suffer for His name. 
There is an underlying joy and peace involved with that kind of suffering because I know the end result.  No matter how bad it gets, a better eternity than this current life awaits.  However, as a Christian, I suffer in another way that underneath the surface does not have a joyful and peaceful undercurrent.  This type of suffering is what I call a self-inflicted suffering.  A friend and mentor to me, Dmitri Bilgere says it this way in his book Gateways to God:  “So too often, we don’t accept the gift of Christ’s sacrifice by committing ourselves to living every day in the grace and the joy he made available to us.  Instead, we try to balance Christ’s suffering by making ourselves suffer, too.”  He goes on to say, “…I should suffer to even the score.  We then live with a ‘low-grade fever’ of guilt and shame as we try to balance the books by suffering along with Christ.”   As I read this, I realized, “That’s me!” 
I beat myself up on a regular basis for the sin I struggle with.  Even when I am not in sin, I create a world of self-inflicted suffering around my shortcomings as a human.  All along, I am thinking that this is what I am supposed to do.  I am deceived to believe that this self-inflicted suffering will somehow release God’s grace and mercy.  If I suffer enough, He will eventually give me favor.  I do this…all along not recognizing that I already have His grace, mercy, and favor.  That was taken care of when His son Jesus went to the cross.  It is a gift.  And the strange part is…I block this gift by holding onto the shortcomings I have experienced.  By continually beating myself up, I rob myself of any joy that may come from suffering as a Christ-follower.  I will experience enough suffering just for following Christ without having to add my own self-inflicted abuse.
I now have the challenge of looking into my heart and finding where I beat myself up.  Where do I need to allow God’s mercy and grace to flow into my life?  The beginning for me is to write this passage on my heart and meditate on it until it is part of my everyday walk.  “…because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
1.      What are some common sufferings you see for most western Christians today?
      2.      Where do you feel you have suffered for Christ?
      3.      Where do you self-inflict your suffering?  What do you beat yourself up over?
      4.      What was an “aha” moment for you when you read about self-inflicted suffering?
      5.      What changes in your life do you need to make in order to allow God’s love and grace   flow into your life?
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