What Would You Say?

What if Jesus came and sat down next to you on your couch and said, “Look, I know it’s going to be hard, but I need you to go through a rough trial. Your experience with me in the midst of this trial and your humble and trusting response to it are going to be very important in the life of someone you love. And, please, remember that I’ll be with you always, every step of the way, supplying the strength and comfort you need.” What would you say?

He would present good reasons: What if your child will learn life-changing lessons about leaning on God, by watching you trust Him through a tough time? What if a spouse will be strengthened in their own walk by journeying with you through the fire? What if a neighbor needs to see evidence of your faith, in order to believe in Christ for herself/himself? What if a fellow believer will need to be comforted by the same comfort that you’ve received? (Or what if they need to minister to YOU in your hardship in order to mature?) What if your faith needs to become more fit and muscular by tribulation, in order for you to be useful to God…for you to impact the people around you? These children, spouses, neighbors, and fellow believers are all people that we’ve been called to love. Are we willing to suffer for their sake, as Jesus did for ours? Are we willing to suffer for the gospel’s sake…keeping in mind that the gospel is not just about one-time conversion, but is also discipleship and maturing in the faith?
 Paul: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what 

is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. (Colossians 1:24)

Jesus: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31,32)

Paul: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Paul: Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel, for which I suffer hardship even to imprisonment as a criminal; but the word of God is not imprisoned. For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2: 8-10)

Peter: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (1 Peter 5: 8,9)

Paul: Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. (Philippians 1: 12-14)

Paul: But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4: 7-12)

Paul: And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5: 3-5)>>

Back to the beginning…would that make life easier, having Jesus sitting there beside you, asking you personally to go through a trial for the sake of others?

It sure seems like it would. But then I remember that He IS with me. He is right with me, as He promised (Matt 28:20 – “and lo, I am with you always”), though I can’t see Him with my physical eyes. He IS personally asking me to suffer for the sake of the gospel, though I don’t hear an audible voice. He’s spoken to each of us about these things in His written Word, as we can see from the few verses (of many!) I’ve quoted. Yes, these words were recorded long ago, to people that no longer walk on this earth, but they were written down for us, as well. Though Jesus is not sitting on my couch drinking a cup of coffee with me each morning, my challenge is to believe that He is indeed with me and walk with Him in His truth every single day. I think Jesus’ words to Thomas, upon His resurrection, can apply here: “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29)