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BELL: Even in suffering we can rejoice in Christ

Today my wife and I visited one of our Bible study class members in the hospital; she is suffering from lung cancer and very weak from the effects of cancer and of chemo treatments. As we talked of how Jesus loves us and gives us hope even in our darkest hours, we were able to rejoice and praise God, for we know He is with us and will see us through bad times.

If we acknowledge Jesus is Lord of our lives, then we don’t have to allow life’s difficulties, even when they cause suffering from disease or for our faith, to take the joy God is eager to provide.

We don’t like to talk about death or the end of our lives, but it is certainly true that each of us, no matter how healthy we might be, will one day face death and will die. During this brief span of life on this earth, we can be sure we will have times and causes that will bring sadness and suffering.

Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:12-13; “Dear friends, don’t be surprised when the fiery ordeal comes among you to test you as if something unusual were happening to you. Instead rejoice as you share in the suffering of the Messiah, so that you may also rejoice with great joy at the revelation of His glory.”

The use of the words “fiery ordeal” here meant the trials that purified the suffering Christians of that day. Peter believed it was a privilege to share in Christ’s sufferings. This was a prominent theme in both Peter and Paul’s writings. Paul stressed that since we suffer with Christ we shall also share in His future glory. (Romans 8:17)

What bothers me so much is that so many people go through life ignoring the teachings of the Bible and are bent on not believing in God or trusting in Jesus for their salvation. They act as if they will live forever and will not face suffering and death when it is a sure reality. They also think being a Christian will in some way dampen their joy in life, or restrict their freedom when trusting in Him will give them the only true freedom. So they put off trusting and believing in Jesus until some more convenient time.

I have heard them to say: “I have plenty of time to get right with God. Right now I want to live my life as I want to.” But in the parable of the rich fool, scripture says: “…thou fool, this very night thy soul will be required of you.” (Luke 12:20)

Sickness and death can come at any time, any age.

1 Peter 4:17, 18 says: “For the time has come for judgment to begin with God’s household, (meaning God’s people) and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who disobey the gospel of God? (Eternal punishment.) And if a righteous person is saved with difficulty, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (They will go to hell!)

Isn’t it common sense to think that no one wants to fail in this life and have God’s judgment fall upon them? It is time for the sinner to recognize his condition and repent of his sins. Scripture says they cannot hear without a preacher or Christian telling them of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We must share the gospel of Christ with the lost of this world — the people of our community — so that they may be saved.

I pray you will.