Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22
I must be clear, not only as I share the Gospel with others, but in my expectations of what following Jesus means. To embrace Jesus is to embrace a life characterized by a cross. Paul was clear in his encouragement to the disciples in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. “Stay true to Jesus. Don’t be surprised by suffering. To enter the kingdom, you must endure tribulation.”
I must renounce the prosperity Gospel. It is not only unbiblical but also rooted in deception. Who is the author of deception? To embrace the enemy’s lie is to ensure eventual disillusionment and anger. God and I will shipwreck on the rocks of false expectations.
Every prophet suffered, as did every member of the original twelve disciples. Everyone was martyred except for John, who lived in the pain and discomfort of exile. Jesus suffered most of all and led the way for any who would follow in His footsteps. He was clear as He defined the path in front of me. Discipleship involves taking up a cross.
I have often hid behind my pain in shame. I was made to feel, by some, that I was suffering because of sin, or lack of faith, or because I lacked in Christian maturity. This shame kept me from reaching out for love and encouragement. Who are the ones God uses mightily for the kingdom? Those acquainted with suffering. Those whom God has afflicted through the evil perpetrated by other’s sinful choices. (Yes, I believe in God’s total sovereignty. He doesn’t cause evil but He is sovereign over all of it, redeeming it as I trust His love and purposes for my life.)
This I firmly believe; my greatest calling is carved out of the healing of my deepest wounds. Just as Jesus’ cross turned into an emblem of redemption, every place of suffering in my life glimmers with the same redemptive potential.
Expose any vestige of the prosperity Gospel in my thinking. It is poison to our relationship! I love You and trust You no matter the severity of the path. Amen