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Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Afflictions of the Afflicted

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. 
In the world you will[d] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

When Jesus spoke these words to His disciples, He was preparing to make the Ultimate Sacrifice! Comforting His disciples with these words of warning, He reminded them, as He reminds us, even today that in Him, we have Peace, even in the midst of suffering..The 'world ' of which Jesus spoke was that present generation, that in which they would be persecuted by the apostate Jews & pursued, even to the death by those who thought they were serving God!

In today's 'world', things don't seem to be all that different, sometimes. When we hear of Christians being beheaded over in the Middle East & those who turn to Christ in Muslim countries being persecuted to the death, there is a tendency for many Christians to think that we are witnessing the end of times that the prophets spoke of. Most Christians, when faced with whatever manner of affliction, are likely to quote the verse above & remind each other that 'He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world' ( I John 4:4 ). This, again, is an eschatological statement, meant to bring comfort to Jesus' first-century disciples, as they were now in the midst of a great tribulation at the hands of the Judaizers.

Tribulation takes many forms; it might be health issues, it could be simply being persecuted, to whatever extent, just for standing your ground as a Christian! Whatever the issue, followers of Jesus the Christ, because of the Peace in their hearts, may sail through any storm, knowing that all things work together for their good! This is not to say, of course, that the Christian always has an easy time of it or that there is a big smile on his or her face; by no means! Pain, of any sort, usually causes distress & often tears. Through those tears, though, which are always wiped away, a greater purpose is served & like Job, we will see greater blessings unfold!

Blessings, too, come in many forms; it is often harder to see blessings than tribulation! Often, looking back, we may realize that what we thought was tribulation was actually a blessing in disguise. Sometimes, too, what we saw as a blessing, at the time, turns out to the worst tribulation we've ever encountered. Blessings only come from our Heavenly Father; He may try our faith, like He did Job's, but He does not send us tribulation; too often, we do that to ourselves! There are numerous different ways that we accomplish this, either by vainly & blindly adhering to the rule of reaping what we sow or simply refusing to receive the blessing from our particular trial.

When Peace, the peace that surpasses our understanding, rules our hearts & our lives,we are given the ability to see through our tears & smile at our blessing; we welcome our trials with open arms because we know that at the end of them are even greater blessings. Trials are never easy, that's why they call them trials, however, we may face our trials with Joy in our hearts & a spring in our step, so to speaking, knowing that they only serve to strengthen our faith, our resolve! This is not a new concept, I realize, for it's all been said & done before, even sung. This Peace, like the blessings that accompany it, only comes from our Heavenly Father, the Father of all Spirits!

Jesus speaks comfort through those same words today! In this world, in the 21st century, we do face trials & tribulation. In this life, this biology, we do & will suffer many things; emotional pains as well as physical discomfort awaits, at some point, all those who dare to enter here. Blessing, too, awaits us; blessings that far outweigh all the pain & suffering we can imagine! Much of what we suffer is in our perception; it's all in how we face our 'giants', so hurl that sling with a true aim & Peace in your heart, knowing that the stone will always find its mark!

Charles Haddon Shank

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