Earlier today I posted a recap of the message I delivered Sunday morning at Calvary Assembly of God addressing the question on why we have to go through suffering. Here are a few quotes I found during my study time last week.
“By nature, we evaluate nearly every situation according to its immediate impact on our desires, and we make our choices accordingly. Consequently, we often sacrifice that which would bring infinite eternal benefit in exchange for temporary gratification.” —Stephen K. Scott
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” —Jesus Christ
“Wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely way, there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple.” —Phillips Brooks
“Earth has no sorrow that Heaven cannot heal.” —Thomas Moore
“Sorrows remembered sweeten present joy.” —Robert Pollok
“Joys are our wings, sorrows our spurs.” —Jean Paul Richter
“Sorrow is divine. Sorrow is reigning on all the thrones of the universe, and the crown of all crowns has been one of thorns. There have been many books that treat of the sympathy of sorrow, but only one that bids us glory in tribulations, and count it all joy when we fall into divers afflictions, that so we may be associated with that great fellowship of suffering of which the incarnate Son of God is the head, and through which He is carrying a redemptive conflict to the glorious victory over evil. If we suffer with Him, we shall also reign with Him.” —Harriet Beecher Stowe
Sometimes I like to think about counterfactual history. That means thinking about the “What ifs” of historical events. What if George Washington had been killed in battle? What if a congressman had voted a different way? And so on.
Here’s one I was thinking about as I read the Book of Acts: What if Paul had prayed, “God, keep me safe”?
Over the last few chapters of Acts, Paul has the opportunity to share the gospel with:
That’s quite an impressive list! But here’s the deal: Paul only got to speak to these high-ranking and influential people because he was a prisoner.
Paul could have prayed for a “safe life.” He could have run away. He could have disobeyed. Instead, he was willing to let God use him anytime, anyplace, anyway. Isn’t the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer? Your Kingdom come, Your will be done.
Is that what I really want?
Or do I want to play it safe?
Phillips Brooks had another thought about how we should pray —
“Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle; but you shall be a miracle.”
I don’t want to play it safe. I want to be strong enough, obedient enough, and willing enough to let God use me anytime, anyplace, anyway. What about you?
Yesterday I posted the following on Facebook, which generated quite a few positive responses –
“God may not recall the soldier from the battle, but if He gives him a greater stomach for the fight, and increased strength for its toils, it may be better still for him” (Spurgeon). Think about it: If God has left you in the battle, He will give you the strength to be victorious. Either way, you come out stronger AND God is glorified!
Since several commented on Facebook or emailed/texted me with words like, “That’s just what I needed to hear right now,” I thought I would add a couple additional thoughts for you.
“Let’s be honest, 90% of our prayers revolve around personal comfort, not God’s glory. Too often we try to pray away every problem. But what if that is the very thing that God wants to leverage for His glory? Let’s not be too quick to pray away the pain, the suffering, the situation, the problem. Let’s not just pray ‘get me out’ prayers. We sometimes need to pray ‘get me through’ prayers.
“We need a paradigm-shift in our prayer lives. It’s not about us. It’s all about God. And when you begin to pray for God’s glory above and beyond everything else it’s a game changer! You no longer pray away every problem. You pray through the problem. You know that God might do a miracle, but that isn’t the goal. The goal is God’s glory. And if suffering with grace yields more glory to God then so be it.” —Mark Batterson, in The Circle Maker
And finally, this prayer thought —
“Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle; but you shall be a miracle.” —Phillips Brooks
If you need someone to stand with you as you “pray through” your battle, let me know. I would be honored to join my prayers with yours.