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By Liu Xuena In our real life, almost every one of us enjoys comfort and fears about experiencing suffering. If these two living environments were displayed in front of us for us to make a choice, few people would choose the latter, because we all enjoy life of comfort. However, is what we choose more beneficial for us? One day, I read a little story like this: Two brothers went to look for happy life together. On their way, they met a witch and an angel. The witch said to them that they would get whatever they wanted and live a rich life if they followed her. The angel said that their will would get tempered and then they would have faith and perseverance in face of difficulties and become the strong ones in life if they followed her. The elder one was fond of comfort, so he chose to follow the witch, while the younger one followed the angel. Surprisingly, the elder one, who had had a comfortable life and enjoyed the wealth and luxury, died of deep depression of fearing death under the age of thirty. Whereas, the younger one took the advice of the angel and joined the army to defend his country. Afterward, although the environment was perilous, he relied on God and performed well in repeated battles, in the end, he received the title of “war hero” as well as support and respect of the people. Besides, a beautiful wife was bestowed on him by the king, and then they spent a happy life together. From the story, I understood: Comfortable life is not necessarily a good thing and environment of suffering is more beneficial for us. I recalled the following historical facts in the Bible: When God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, because He commemorated Lot’s righteous deeds, before the destruction He sent the angels to tell Lot and his family to run up onto the mountain and never to look back. The meaning of it was for them to forsake everything for the sake of their life. But Lot’s wife looked back and thereby turned into a pillar of salt and lost her life because she still clung to her family property and comfortable life. In addition, Luke 18 records that a young and rich Jewish ruler asked the Lord Jesus how to gain eternal life. The Lord told him to sell everything he had and distribute the money to the poor and then come to follow Him. After hearing this, the young man left with sorrow because he had great possessions and he could not bear to give up, missing the chance to enter the Kingdom and gain eternal life. These people ultimately lost the blessings and promises of God because they reveled in comforts. Miserable environment may sand off our natural character so that we won’t act according to our flesh; miserable environment can also temper our faith so that we can learn to rely on God and be blessed by God. Recall the time when Moses was a prince of Egypt, he lived a comfortable life and did not experience any suffering. Naturally, he was full of hot blood and always depended on his naturalness to do things, incapable of shouldering the heavy burden of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. After forty years of tribulations in the wildness, his temper was ground away, and he no longer relied on his temperament, good intentions and enthusiasm to do things. At the same time, his faith in God also increased and only then was he capable of assuming the heavy burden of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. And so was Job. When he underwent painful trial and lost his priceless family possessions and all his children, not only did he not complain to God, but his true faith and obedience toward God increased after the trial. And then he was called righteous by God and ultimately God appeared to him and bestowed double blessings on him. It was through experiencing different kinds of environments in suffering and tribulation that they bore those fruits and testimonies. God says: “When God works to refine man, man suffers, his love of God becomes greater, and more of God’s might is revealed in him. The less man’s refinement, the less his love of God, and the less God’s might is revealed in him. The greater his refinement and pain and the more his torment, the deeper his true love of God will be, the more genuine his faith in God will be, and the deeper his knowledge of God will be. In your experiences you will see that those who suffer great refinement and pain, and much dealing and discipline have a deep love of God, and a more profound and penetrating knowledge of God.” “Only in suffering can lessons be learned, which means being able to gain truth, and understand God’s intention. In fact, many truths are understood within experience of painful trials. Nobody says that God’s intention is known, that His almightiness and wisdom are understood, that God’s righteous disposition is appreciated in an environment of ease or in favorable circumstances. That would be impossible!” God is the Lord of all creation. He knows best what we need and what environments can form our faith and increase our knowledge of Him. Therefore, He always creates different environments to temper us according to our needs, so that in these difficult circumstances, we can find out our shortcomings, inadequacies and corrupt dispositions. And as a result, it causes us to be willing to let go of ourselves, obey God’s rule and arrangements, and conduct ourselves and deal with others according to His word. Thus, we are qualified to inherit God’s blessing and promise. If we always live in a comfortable environment without trails and refinements, our heart will gradually stray away from God. And owing to our craving physical comfort, it is easy for us to be depraved, live in all…
Today’s Gospel For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. – Proverbs 1:32 Reflection Two days ago, I took the potted to the outdoor. After a rain, it was almost limp like frosted eggplant. I was aching and thought: It’s hopeless … However, this morning I stumbled across the potted, and it became more vigorous. I couldn’t help but sigh: Rain makes flowers stronger. Aren’t our lives also this way? If one wants to have maturity in life, he must experience some setbacks and hardships. Only people such as this can become stronger. Because we cannot see the value of experiencing these hardships or understand that the adversity can serve as a paving stone to success, we are afraid of difficulties and hope that our life goes well once and for all. It is easy for us to become depraved and freeloaders, even lead a sated, idle life in comfortable environment. If we continue on this way, we will achieve nothing and live in vain. As for Christians, torment and refinement are the greatest blessings from God, because Christians need to endure being tempered by all kinds of sufferings if they want to gain life. The Bible said, “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried …” (Dan 12:10). “My brothers, count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (Jas 1:2-4). There are many verses like these in the Bible. We can understand that we can be made perfect by God amid hardship and refinement. For example, the ancient saints and prophets beloved by God are used and blessed by Him after sufferings. Abraham, he could offer up his only son Isaac to satisfy God in the trial, and God blessed him and made his progeny as numerous as the stars of heaven, and as plentiful as the sand on the seashore. After forty-year affliction in the wilderness, Moses’ hot blood was cast away so that he was able to obey God and was fit for use by God. He finally carried the heavy responsibility of leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Job’s property was robbed and his children suffered disaster, but he became a righteous man who feared God and shunned evil because of his true faith. In Peter’s process of following the Lord, he suffered hundreds of tribulation and refinement. In the end, he was nailed upside down on the cross for the sake of God. He achieved obedience unto death and had the supreme love of God. Only by undergoing ordeals, can our corruption be cleansed. After our sins are cast away, we can gain God’s praise and approval. Only the foolish people choose the easy life. Moreover, we wish to enter the kingdom of heaven once and for all, but Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mat 11:12). We should change our viewpoint of pursuit and try our best to pursue the truth according to the Lord’s requirements. » Read more on Sermons on Trials and Tribulations page, or click on the related articles below: • How to Overcome Trials and Tribulations in Life • What Should We Do When We Face Trials? Learn From the Story of Job • Required Reading for Christians: Trials—Another Kind of Blessing From God
Today’s Gospel The LORD is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves such as be of a contrite spirit. – Psalm 34:18 Reflection From this verse, we see God’s compassion for man and that only God can save us from the sufferings. Living under the domain of Satan, man is afflicted and tortured by Satan, and has much sorrow and bitterness within. Only God has mercy on us and can save us from the sufferings. In daily life, trivial things, work stress, and complex relationship with family and friends make us live a tiring and hard life. And we often live in sins because of scrambling for reputation and fortune. We feel sad ourselves, and also cause pains to others. Only by coming before God, can we get rid of the bondage of sins and the pain of flesh, and live a free and released life. Just like this passage of words says, “The Almighty has mercy on these people who suffer deeply. At the same time, He is fed up with these people who have no consciousness, because He has to wait too long for the answer from humans. He desires to seek, seek your heart and your spirit. He wants to bring you food and water and to awaken you, so you are no longer thirsty, no longer hungry. When you are weary and when you begin to feel the desolation of this world, do not be perplexed, do not cry. Almighty God, the Watcher, will embrace your arrival any time. ” » Further reading about the testimonies of God’s Grace: • God Is With Me, I Fear Disaster No More • After Husband Betrayed Me, God Guided Me Through the Pain • Understanding the grace of God: Accompanied by God’s Love, I Was No Longer Worried About My Children’s Illness
Suffering can perfect our faith and make us strong. Only if we face the hardships in life calmly and obey God’s arrangements can we live a happy life.