Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Salvation Grounded in Suffering

“Nothing shall be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). This is the clear teaching of Scripture. But it is important we understand it. It does not necessarily mean everything will be easy or God will immediately solve all our problems for us. Sometimes we can see God as a kind of candy man in the sky, who will make us happy and make all the pain go away. It does not always work that way. Let us look in the context to see what is being promised. God is telling the young girl that she will become miraculously pregnant without a man (Luke 1:30-35). She risked losing her fiancé, if God had not intervened (Matthew 1:18-21). She almost certainly lost her reputation (John 8:41). Also, no sooner did this miraculous Son come of age than He began to act in strange and threatening ways (Luke 2:41-52; John 2:3-5; Mark 3:31-35). Then Mary ended up standing and watching as this Son died a criminal’s death in a very painful way (John 19:25-27). Well did Simeon prophecy concerning her that pain would pierce her soul (Luke 2:34,35). But that was not the end of the story.   

That death on a cross paid the price for sin for all who put their faith in Christ (1 Peter 2:24,25; Romans 3:21-31; Ephesians 2:1-9). Further, He demonstrated that the work was accomplished and death was conquered by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Romans 4:25; 8:11). Mary lived to see the situation turn around (Acts 1:14), but it was a long, difficult journey. God has a plan for our lives (Ephesians 2:10; 1:11; Romans 8:28). But that plan may require us to go through trials and difficulties (2 Corinthians 4:17,18; John 16:33; Romans 8:18). Nonetheless, God will bring us through victorious (2 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 8:37; 1 Corinthians 15:56,57). But whether or not we actually see that, we need to trust God, that He is at work in our lives and in the world (Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrews 11:13-16; Psalms 127:1,2).

God promises us joy in the Christian life (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16; Romans 14:17), and this should be remembered. But it is also well that we remember that the salvation of the world was accomplished through suffering. The God of the universe humbled Himself and became a man to pay the price for our sins (Philippians 2:5-11; John 1:1-18; Hebrews 2:9-18). And there were other people like Mary who paid a price to bring this about. Is it therefore so surprising that God would require us today to go through sufferings to accomplish His will in our lives? But He promises to bring us through them to someday stand in His presence (Revelation 21:4; Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 3:20,21). Therefore, nothing shall be impossible with God.

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