Last year at this time, August 9th. 2016, 11:30 pm, I was in the hospital, after undergoing a totally unnecessary biopsy, wearing a medical gown; as I was already suffering from severe pain, three sets of doctors left three different instructions on what position I should sleep that night, and was constantly interrupted by one or the other nurse, to change my sleeping position according to which doctor had left the instructions to that particular nurse; so, when I entered August 10th, 2016, my birthday, I was sleep deprived, wearing a medical gown and in severe pain.
So, this year, I did not have any plans for my birthday. Even yesterday, when I was praying for my birthday, I was grateful that this year, I would not be wearing a medical gown, suffering from sleep deprivation and intense pain. I just thanked the Lord for this, and in prayer, asked Him to bless me according to His will, and whatever He does, I will accept it with a grateful heart.
Imagine my surprise then when this morning (August 9th, 2017), as I was getting ready for our morning family prayer, my cousin brother called me to ask if I would join him for a small trip to Pondicherry, a nearby town by the East Coast of India. When I asked him what the occasion was, he told me that his family just wanted to go out and he would be happy if my wife and I could join them for the trip.
So, we went in the morning and I just came back. It was exhausting, but in a good way. We went to the beach, had some delicious food and did some shopping. More importantly I could spend a lot of time with my nieces. Though I became very tired in the evening, the Lord strengthened me soon.
I am too exhausted now. All I want is to sleep. But then my heart is filled with so much gratitude, I don’t know how to thank our Father in Heaven. One thing though. When I was young, I was taught that if you leave anything to the will of God, you will end up suffering a lot – remember the prayer of Jesus at Gethsemane and what happened to Him within 24 hours – is what I was taught. Though over the years I understood the folly of that notion, “according to Your will” had been always associated with severe afflictions and tribulations. But, the death at Calvary is not the end. It is the path leading to the glorious resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; yes, the will of the Lord is not always to make us suffer, but once we have suffered with Jesus, to make us partakers in His revealed glory.
With a grateful heart, I praise our Father and as I am about to begin a new year, Father, may Your will be done in my life; bless me according to Your Word that You have given Your servant. Through Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.
Whenever there is any mention about living a life of blessing, immediately the Pentecostal mind-set of some believers and preachers are so plain visible. What is a blessing, they ask. “Is owning two cars and two homes is what you consider a blessing? Those things do not matter at all. No, no, salvation is the greatest blessing that a Christian could receive. Since you have received it, you must be content with it”, is what they say.
Now, I am not saying that owning two cars and two homes is the sign of blessing. But, what if the Lord has blessed you and has given you two cars and two homes… since it does not matter to you, would you give one of your cars to me as a gift? Will you donate one of your homes to some needy Christian who has never owned a home? I am sure all those who say that these things do not matter all, will never give away anything so easily, for they know how difficult it is to obtain them in the first place.
Also, the next line of attack is salvation is the greatest blessing. In my humble opinion, no, it is not. Let me give an example. According to this world, if I win a million dollar, it would be a blessing. But can I survive without a million dollar balance in my bank account? Yes, I can. I know people who do not even have a bank account, but enjoying their life as far as they are considered. Can I live my life to the fullest I know without a million dollar in my hands? Yes, I can. So, something is a blessing; it makes life better, but I can still live without it.
But I can’t live without salvation. Salvation, for me, is not a blessing. It is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). It is life itself for me. I can live without ever being prosperous; I can survive without being successful in my life. Everything I touch may become a failed venture, and still I can lead a happy life. But without salvation, my life is not worth living. Without salvation, I am as dead as a mummy. Salvation is not a blessing, it is the life, very life itself.
To have a sympathizing God we must have a suffering Saviour, and there is no true fellow-feeling with another save in the heart of him who has been afflicted like him.
We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper, must first be a sufferer. He who would be a saviour must somewhere and somehow have been upon a cross; and we cannot have the highest happiness of life in succouring others without tasting the cup which Jesus drank, and submitting to the baptism wherewith He was baptized.
The most comforting of David’s psalms were pressed out by suffering; and if Paul had not had his thorn in the flesh we had missed much of that tenderness which quivers in so many of his letters.
The present circumstance, which presses so hard against you (if surrendered to Christ), is the best shaped tool in the Father’s hand to chisel you for eternity. Trust Him, then. Do not push away the instrument lest you lose its work.
“Strange and difficult indeed
We may find it,
But the blessing that we need
Is behind it.”
The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.