People experience many hardships and trials in their lives. Taking their cross, they walk the path of suffering. This is the life of pilgrims.
How about us who have received God? God has a plan for our life. If we realize this fact, we will understand that our present suffering is a part of God’s great plan for our salvation and the process of our rebirth.
This is what happened in America. There was a fire at a store in Chicago, and the store was completely destroyed by fire. Its owner was a self-made man who had undergone difficulties. So his neighbors and customers commiserated him on his misfortune.
One day, in the ashes stood a small notice board saying, “I will begin again tomorrow. There is no reason I give way to despair.” The owner of the destroyed store opened a street stall beside the board and placed some of his articles on sale. All his business went up in smoke overnight, but he didn’t get frustrated. People were moved by his unyielding spirit. As soon as he displayed articles on the stall, they were sold out. Before long, he made enough money to build a new building.
How could he start again? A common thing served as a motive. When the building was completely destroyed by fire and all his efforts came to nothing overnight, he was terribly distressed. Then he drove about the town and happened to see a mason laying bricks. Beginning with the first brick, the mason laid red bricks one upon another; after several hours of the day, there rose a high brick wall. Watching this, he realized: ‘I had nothing in the beginning. However, I could set up a big store, because I wholeheartedly laid bricks one after another like the mason. Now, I’ll try a new start, with the mind of the bricklayer.’ This indomitable spirit enabled him to rise again and succeed in his business.
The building, which had been burnt down, was restored by its owner’s fortitude. In our life of faith, whether we can get over difficulties or not depends on who masters our spirits. If we are not ruled by God but by any other spirits, we will be thrown into despair whenever we face difficulties.
If arrogance has dominion over our spirits, we should crucify it. If our spirits are mastered by desperation, we should also drive it out from our hearts.
There are many trials and pains in the process of our rebirth in God. Since we have hope, no adversity can deter us. On the contrary, those who get easily frustrated, even though they’ve gained success, are thrown into despair when a misfortune befalls them. We endure any adversities and hardships, believing that there are God’s certain plans for our lives.
God shows His providence through nature. Going into the principles of all nature, we realize that without the pain of rebirth, we cannot bear fruit prepared in God’s grace.
A silkworm cannot become a moth without casting off its cocoon. A chick must break its eggshell to get life.
Jesus has said that when a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it bears much fruit.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”Jn 12:24
If a kernel of wheat remains only a single seed, it cannot sprout and grow. For the bearing of fruit, there must be ‘breaking’; without breaking, there is no rebirth or new self.
Some part of the kernel must be broken, so that it may sprout; beginning with the broken part, the kernel sprouts. If it spares itself for fear of the pain of being broken, it cannot bear fruit. Only when the grain stands the pain and gets born again, it can bring forth much fruit.
So the Bible says that we cannot see the kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”Jn 3:3
Without being born again, without being broken, no one can bear fruit and see the kingdom of God.
Our present suffering is like the pain of a grain’s sprouting and that of an egg’s hatching. If we believe firmly that God will allow us to bear much fruit in the end, we will be able to endure with joy and thanksgiving.
Jesus Himself showed an example of being born again as a grain of wheat.
… Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. … Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.Isa 53:3-10
Christ was oppressed, wounded, pierced, despised, mocked, …. “He will see his offspring”: Until this word was fulfilled, Christ had been totally crushed in distress. However, Jesus endured all the pain, knowing that unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it cannot bear much fruit. By the perseverance of Christ Himself, we have been able to seek salvation and have the hope of eternal life.
The Bible says that it was God’s will to crush Christ. Then, it is also God’s will that we should suffer. If we endure and are born again, we can bear much fruit.
Stephen prayed for those stoning him, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Ac 7:59-60). If he had the mind of a sinful man, he would have hated them. However, he received Christ as his master, so that he could be born again and love even his enemies with the heart of Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Gal 2:20
Apostle Paul lived a new life after receiving Jesus Christ. He wrote to the saints of the Early Church: ‘If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation’ (2 Co 5:17), ‘Put off your old self and put on the new self in Christ’ (Eph 4:22-24).
Paul crucified his old self and put on the new self. He said that Christ lived in him; what pleased Christ was his pleasure, and what He wished was his wish.
Jesus came into this earth to save sinners, and He was pleased when they repented. So was Paul who received Christ as his master; to him, all men were the objects to be saved. So he began to preach.
Like Paul, we, too, should crucify our old self that does not please God. When only Christ lives in us, we will be pleased with what He wants.
Sometimes we try to bear fruit without being broken. However, this is not God’s will. Only through the pain of breaking our sinful nature, we can put on the new self; when we become new by receiving God as our master, what pleases God will be our pleasure and His glory our glory. Then God will let us bear much fruit.
In the parable of the talents, Jesus rebuked the man who had received one talent and didn’t allow him to enter the kingdom of heaven. It was because he just kept the talent, without breaking his own self. How about those who had received two or five talents? They broke themselves to be born again, so that they could bear much fruit. The man who had received the one talent, however, kept it to himself for fear of the pain of sprouting. That was why Jesus rejected him.
We are now endeavoring to bear the fruit of life, going through difficulties and adversities. The pain itself is not our ultimate purpose but only a process for bearing fruit. It is God’s providence to make us suffer, so that we may be born again and bear fruit.
If we understand this, we can accept any hardship as God’s great gift for us and give thanks to God. Though there are hardships in the process of our being born again, we shall endure, keeping in mind that everything in our life goes according to God’s plans. Dear brothers and sisters! I hope you will be born again and have hope for heaven, so that you can give more glory to God.