The End All Be All

  • Nov. 10, 2015
  • #8747

Enduring hardship may produce spiritual benefits, but our focus should be on God, allowing our struggles to bring Him glory.

The End All Be All

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and what do you know about suffering?

Well, you probably know of how suffering can lead to Christian maturity. God uses hardships to improve our character, remove sinful habits, make us heaven-hearted, and instill compassion toward others, just to name a few. I'm sure you’ve attended Bible studies on the subject and could probably recount at least 5 or 6 more benefits from the brokenness that God allows in your life, right?

 But these benefits behind suffering, no matter how good and true they are, no matter how beneficial they are to your life and faith, benefits from suffering are not a be all end all. No, purified faith through hardship should never be an end to itself – it should culminate in God. Stronger character is made muscular not for its own sake, but for God's sake. Hope is more lively, not because its focus is on "things getting better," but because of its focus on God. The end all be all is the Lord. To forget this is to tarnish faith, weaken character, and deflate hope. After all, First Corinthians chapter 8, verse 6 says, “There is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, [now get this] through whom all things came and through whom we live." Friend, it is really all about Jesus.

Looking back, I remember there was a time when I was getting used to my wheelchair. The depression had lifted, and I was really trying hard to understand God's purposes in my paralysis. Back then, I would tell people how grateful I was to God that He used my wheelchair to refine my faith, give me a testimony, help me pray, focus my eyes on Heaven, and put wings to my hope. Please notice how many times I said “me” and “my” in that sentence. It was all for my sake! It took a long time before I understood a passage like Isaiah 48, where God says in verses 10-11 “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.” Wow! Yes, our lives are to bring God glory, yes, our faith brings Him glory. But friend, so do our suffering and hardships. That is such good news if you feel as though you are knee deep in the furnace of affliction today! Like the verse I shared earlier, “There is but one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”

 Here’s my point: the Bible never bids us to keep our eyes on suffering, or even suffering's benefits, but only on God, the One who wrote the book on suffering. So today, consider the good and valued benefits for the hardships in your life. But can you say with the apostle Paul, "I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ (that’s what it’s all about) that I may gain Christ and be found in him”?

If you’re having trouble with that, then I have something I want to give you that will really encourage you on. It’s a booklet I wrote called, “God's Word on Disability”—or I should say I at least wrote part of it! And you don’t have to break your neck; you don’t have to be a quadriplegic like me to glean from these insights. Because it’s filled with principles that will help you focus on the Lord Jesus rather than on the benefits that might come to you through your hardships. So please, let me give it to you today. Just go to my radio page at joniandfriends.org and we will send it off right away. Remember, friend, life when it’s good and life when it’s bad or life when it’s hard is all about treasuring Jesus, drawing nearer to Jesus, gaining Him and being found in Him. So let us hear from you today on my radio page at joniandfriends.org.

Photo: oilfieldpulise.com

© Joni and Friends

 

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