Yesterday I published a post in which I said that God allows our trials, tribulations, and temptations and that they can benefit us. They can also benefit others through the example we provide while we are going through them. Jesus is our best example of how to respond to temptation and trouble. He didn’t panic.
Isaiah 53:3 (NLT) He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
He prayed and trusted His Father, even when asking the Father to not have Him go through the horrors of a “kangaroo court” trial, and crucifixion.
Matthew 26:39-44 (NLT)39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.
Even in death He trusted God.
Acts 2:25-28 (NLT)25 King David said this about him: ‘I see that the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.26 No wonder my heart is glad, and my tongue shouts his praises! My body rests in hope.27 For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your Holy One to rot in the grave.28 You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence.’
The Bible is full of others who trusted God and were delivered from all their afflictions although sometimes deliverance doesn’t come until we are with the Lord.
Hebrews 11:32-40 (NLT)32 How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets.33 By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions,34 quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight.35 Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection.36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons.37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated.38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.39 All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised.40 For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.
(See my post “Yes the Righteous are Delivered From All Their Afflictions”)
Paul wrote about much of the suffering he endured for the gospel and he shared it with us. Just as Paul is for us we can be examples for others.
I want share something from the YouVersion Jesus Bible Reading Plan, to encourage you. This will encourage you if you are going through difficult times now or when, and there will be a when, you go through trials, tribulations, and temptations.
SUFFERING FOR JESUS
Acts 14:19-20 NIV Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.
Paul was well acquainted with suffering. He was imprisoned, stoned, beaten, flogged, shipwrecked, starved, exhausted and endangered throughout his life as a follower of Christ (2Co 11:16 – 33). Because of his experiences, throughout his letters Paul was intent on reminding Christians that hardship is to be expected. He said it quite clearly in Philippians: “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Php 1:29).
Though the typical human response is to avoid pain at all costs, Paul calls Christians to accept their trials in light of the fact that God suffers with us and because God causes good things to come from our difficulties (Ps 34:18; Ro 8:28). He says, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope” (Ro 5:3 – 4). Furthermore, suffering is part of being united with Jesus (Php 3:10 – 11) and, thankfully, it is temporary: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2Co 4:16 – 17).
Jesus, help me to find joy in my pain, as it brings me closer to you. May others see me suffering and want to experience the peace that you have given me. Amen.
THANKS BE TO GOD, WHO DELIVERS ME
Romans 7:25 (NLT) 25 Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
Romans 7 is nothing if not a verbal picture of struggle. In this chapter, readers get a firsthand glimpse into the inner thoughts of the apostle, which can either be uplifting and encouraging or crushing and discouraging depending on one’s perspective.
It might be discouraging to know that even Paul — who had experienced Jesus in a personal way and had seen the explosive growth of the early church — still struggled so violently with his own heart. But this chapter can also be encouraging for the same reason. When the weight of sin is particularly oppressive, Christians can take heart, knowing that all people struggle; even the apostle Paul battled mightily with sin. The New Testament never characterizes Christians as those who do not struggle with sin; rather they are those who stay in the fight.
When Christians feel the weight of sin’s burden; when they’re torn between righteousness and unrighteousness, between the desires of the Spirit and the desires of the flesh, then the only solution is Jesus. He is the only One who can deliver those who are dead in sin and, through the Holy Spirit, help his followers to resist sin. The Christian needs the gospel as much as the non-Christian does, for it is by the gospel God’s people were saved from their slavery to sin. It is the same gospel that reminds the believer that they are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Ro 8:37).
Jesus, thank you for Paul’s example. Help me to persevere against sin until I can join you in a sinless eternity. Amen.
Excerpted from the Jesus Bible 365 - Day Devotional Reading Plan Zondervan with Passion City Church.
The Jesus Bible sixty-six books. one story. all about one name.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.