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The Lord spoke as only He can by whispering to my spirit, “Suffer it out.”
After many difficult years of following Jesus, you would think that I would have known better than to ask stupid questions.
But there are days when, like a silly child, I ask for help, but what I am really asking is that the problem be taken away.
Do not get me wrong; God does indeed take many a problem away, and He always helps me to carry my burdens. He tells me to pick myself up but as you shall see, there is a whole level of suffering that comes when one adds to one’s faith and that is what I am talking about. I am discussing things of maturity here—not the foolishness of repeated folly.
Like Jeremiah the prophet, who often whined to God, the answer given by God is either to ignore the whine or to simply state something to the effect of “suffer it out.”
Either way, Jeremiah had to persevere in all the sufferings God had willed upon him and worked throughout his life in order to become a man of godliness.
Bear in mind the fact that there are many problems in life that are just not going to go away.
Let us be reminded of Ecclesiastes:
Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)
If you will remember, we were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and all of our days in life are destined for hardship, toil, and wearisome labor under the sun.
Everyone would be well advised to give up on the escapism of drugs, fun, and false prayers because they are vain and hold false hopes.
There is real hope and happiness to be found in embracing the truth revealed in the book of Ecclesiastes.
All things are wearisome, more than one can say. (Ecclesiastes 1:8)
The vast majority of wasted mankind seeks to entertain their problems away, while the large crowd of worthless religious folk looks for blessings of God that are simply not present, nor will they ever come to be.
How much talk there is of hope, prayer, and seeking God when one experiences a problem, instead of submitting to the will of God and suffering it out unto maturity in faith.
The spiritual word for the term “suffer it out” is “perseverance.”
The Apostle James points us to Job, who suffered greatly for decades without ever knowing why.
Many things in our spiritual walk must be “suffered out” or require perseverance before we will discover the mercy and compassion of God. Blessed are those who learn to trust God as Job did.
As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11)
Perseverance is a quality that manifests in people’s ability to practice simple endurance and steadfastness with suffering, hard work, and self-discipline.
It is through perseverance that God has chosen to make us mature and complete in the faith. Those who persevere in the sufferings of Christ according to the will of God become so mature that they lack nothing in the way of being a spiritual person.
Such maturity takes time. Steadfast time. Enduring time. Tedious work time.
Consider a worldly child. Depending on the quality—or lack of quality—in the personality of a child, we can see what the outcome will be when they reach adulthood. When children labor hard, walk in self-discipline, and are willing to be corrected, we admire them for their professionalism. How much more will God praise His humble-hearted children who grow up to be professionals in holiness? The Apostle James wrote:
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)
Let us look to Joshua, the son of Nun, for an example of one who persevered unto maturity of faith. Tucked away in Exodus 33 is the hidden key as to why Joshua became a mighty man of faith. Let us read it:
The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent. (Exodus 33:11)
Day in and day out, while Moses received all the benefit of speaking to God face-to-face, young Joshua did the persevering work of staying next to the tent of meetings in the hope that God would speak to him, unworthy as he was.
Joshua gave up all other self-fulfilling activities that others were free to do in the hope of catching a glimpse of the holy God. While everyone else was dating freely, Joshua would have been a boring date. While all other young people were engaging in folly and fun, Joshua just spent time around Moses’s tent, keeping things clean.
Were there days of boredom, heat, and exhausting temptation? You can bet your bottom dollar there were. You can be sure that there was many an hour when Joshua wondered if the outcome was worth the effort and whether God would ever talk to him. Indeed, as impure thoughts raced through his mind, Joshua would admit that he was not worthy to be next to the tent of meeting, let alone to expect God to enter into fellowship with him.
Joshua preferred to be as close to God as possible while performing boring chores, rather than enjoying simple relaxations.
No matter the waxing and waning of his emotions, Joshua stayed put next to the tent of the Lord.
Joshua was given no promise, no future hope that he would be a mighty man of valor for the Lord one day and lead a new, repentant group of believers into the Promised Land.
In spite of all, without entertainment, worldly comfort, or hope of advancement, Joshua persevered in the lowly duty of keeping Moses’s tent clean.
How rare are men like Joshua, who was more than willing to be a lowly servant to Moses for years, without succumbing to the group of grumblers who constantly slandered Moses, as the whole camp wandered around in the hot, dry, boring place of want called the desert.
As my Lord Jesus has said, if you want to become a man or woman of faith, then make yourself a servant in every way.
As we read 2 Peter, notice where the divine power to live the Christian life lies.
Let this be repeated: if you desire the divine power to live a self-disciplined, holy life that is always growing in everything good and is of sound doctrine, then be aware that they key is hidden in the word “perseverance.”
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus (2 Peter 1:3–11)
Forget the easy Gospel calls that are marketed today; the divine power to be righteous and to escape the overwhelming sin and unrepentant sinners around you and in the Church requires every effort to add to all the things of righteousness.
Repeat: “every effort!”
If you have any faith in Jesus, in self-discipline, in anything good at all from God, then start to get busy pursuing the things of the Living God. You will be shocked at how many sins would simply disappear by His Grace if you got busy, expending every effort to add to the parts of your life that belong to the Living God.
Indeed, there is no time for grumbling, whining, or complaining when one is busy persevering in:
Adding to goodness in faith;
Adding to goodness and knowledge;
Adding to knowledge and self-control;
Adding to self-control and perseverance;
Adding to perseverance and godliness;
Adding to godliness and brotherly kindness; and
Adding to brotherly kindness and love.
The next topic of discussion is something else you can bank on.
The more you seek to “add,” the more you will see what is missing, so prepare yourself to be humbled, then humbled again until obedience to the Holy Spirit is complete.
Ignore the self-righteous, for they will not “add to” that which they believe they already have and will try to prevent you from trying so hard.
Those who do not truly hunger and thirst for righteousness are extremely unwilling to admit how empty their soul and life really is.
To be sure, when you “add” everything good to your life, you will begin to see more clearly what is bad, sinful, and wicked.
Many an individual refuses to grow up in Jesus because to grow up means to swiftly bring into focus the things that are wrong in one’s heart and life.
For example, as I pursue “brotherly kindness” and seek to actively show it to others, the sinfulness of unkindness rears its ugly head. When we pursue “brotherly kindness,” the impurity of receiving attention for being a kind person must be crucified with Christ. When we seek to show more and more “brotherly kindness,” we must discipline ourselves so that we are always ready to get up from our chairs and get down on the floor to be a servant of everyone.
Remember: to become wise requires acceptance of and surrender to the rebukes of God, always in humility and without bitterness as we say, “Yes, God, you are right; that is sinful!”
Peter reminds those who are seeking to increase the righteousness in their lives not to lose heart; since Jesus forgave your past sins when you didn’t care about Him at all, how much more will He forgive as you start to add all manner of righteousness to your heart, mind, soul, and strength. It is worth repeating 2 Peter 1:9:
But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (2 Peter 1:9)
It is easy to become nearsighted and blind in despair when honestly seeking to add righteousness to one’s life.
Do not be so nearsighted and blind that all you can see is your weaknesses, sins, and failures.
While many others will ignore their sins you need to look honestly at your failures while looking through them and see Jesus bidding you to press hard after holiness.
Only those who fully see who they are in all their sins while at the same time seeing Jesus will grow in humble righteousness.
All others are foolish believers that will not prosper in righteousness with God.
Let every housewife be of good cheer. Your long, persevering, and dull work at home will be rewarded in ways you cannot contemplate or imagine at the present time.
To every simple laborer and workman, let it be said: be strong in perseverance, hard work, and bone-weary labor, for God will reward you just for spending time around the tent, staying fast even when you are bored out of your mind so that you might protect His goodness.
Let every father and husband spend around the home tent, guarding the holiness of God; just remaining present on the home front is enough to protect the peace of the Lord in the house.
If you desire the divine power to live an overcoming Christian life, then Jesus tells you to sit down and count the cost first because a lot of adding needs to be done in your worthless life.
This is why there is no excuse for anyone who claims The Name to refuse to grow in all things righteous, for:
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith… For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
It is only by doing these things that one will never fall, so it is best to sit down and count the cost of what it means to persevere in the righteousness that Jesus demands.
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