A Short Quote on the Purpose of Christian Suffering
With my earlier post on the patterns of suffering still fresh in my mind, I found a quote today from R.B. Thieme, Jr. regarding Christian suffering at a discussion site I mostly lurk at. I liked the quote so much that I am going to post it here since my few readers may enjoy it. The quote uses some vocabulary that general readers won’t be familiar with but I think everyone will get the point.
We don’t glorify God by what we do. We glorify God by His Word in our soul and in our thinking.
As we go through this time of assault on our divine establishments, and as we go through suffering, what we think in our mind is where our blessings in time will come from and where our blessings in eternity will come from. Right now, this minute, this day, this week, we have the opportunity for God to be glorified by utilizing the whole realm of the Word of God in our thinking.
More notes from the “Integrity of God” written by R.B. Thieme.
page 156-157a (This book can be found here)
“Perhaps this has never occurred to you, but the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified by the best things in life! These wonderful things are parlayed into eternal rewards that will glorify Him forever.
I return to this point and dwell on it again because I want you to see the picture: Whatever the mature believer receives from the Lord in time is designed to glorify Him in time, in the angelic conflict. But that is only part of the picture. Time is a mere drop in the bucket compared to eternity and, according to Paul’s a-fortiori explanation the blessings in eternity will be infinitely greater than those in time. As the result of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ now, you will be given things that will glorify Him forever and ever–after the entire angelic conflict has become ancient history, a matter long since resolved and no longer an issue.
That is what we are doing on earth. That distant future is why we are alive today, tomorrow, the next day and the next. We are doing something now to glorify Him forever. And what are we doing? We are daily taking in doctrine under the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit so we can gradually conform our thinking to the mind of Christ, so we can crack the maturity barrier, so we can receive blessings in time and eventually be blessed in eternity.
Now, many people do not understand that suffering is an integral part of this system of blessing and happiness. We naturally tend to associate happiness with what we consider to be pleasant circumstances. However, under God’s permissive will, we experience both pleasant and unpleasant circumstances in the devil’s world; this has been a characteristic of cosmos diabloicus since Satan took over at the fall of man. Like a road that winds through delightfully cool mountains, descends periodically to the sweltering desert floor, then rises again into the highlands, so our life’s journey takes us in and out of pleasant circumstances, in and our of suffering.
When people suffer, usually they squirm, they toss, they search for greener pastures, hoping that a change of environment will alleviate the pain and bring happiness. Yet God declares that the details and circumstances of life are of no consequence. Whether you suffer as an individual, as a member of a group, or as part of a national disaster, God converts even the desert experiences into great blessing. Indeed, He does not passively relegate such experiences to His permissive will. He takes a direct hand in the matter by providing undeserved suffering as a real imputation from His justice to His righteousness in the mature believer. He provides the suffering as well as the blessing in that suffering. It is fair because it is from His justice. And like all blessings that come down the grace pipeline, it is not earned or deserved.”