How Will Jesus Help Me During My Suffering – His Self
To know the love of Jesus Christ is to know the love of Someone who will love you so unconditionally that you will know that you are completely His. The love of Jesus knows no boundaries; knows no end. When you are loved by the Savior, you are free to be who you were meant to be – a reflection of the One who loves you. Jesus once said that, when you deeply and truly love someone, you would gladly lay down your own life to protect and save them: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14-15/NLT). When Jesus went to the cross, He did so gladly, because He had you and me in mind when He did. Jesus extended His love to us as easily as He spread His arms up on the cross. Jesus gave us all of Himself – His pain, His blood, and even His own life – to protect and save us from not only the devil, but from ourselves, as well.
Let's look at some of the ways the love of Jesus protects and saves us in this life here on earth.
By His love:
Jesus will not let me be consumed by evil.
These days, some people account the Old Testament to a kind of "That was then, this is now" mentality. But this should not be considered a valid excuse for not knowing what the Old Testament taught. For even the Apostle Paul stated in Romans 15:4 – "Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. They give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises"(NLT).
In the book of Lamentations (believed to have been written by the prophet Jeremiah), a book written by a man who is anguishing over watching his nation slowly crumble because they refused to listen to the prophets God had sent them, the author reminds himself that, in the midst of his suffering, the love of God is his hope for the future. "I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD" (3:19-26).
Where does this hope come from that the prophet speaks of? It comes directly from God. To access this hope, you must believe that God can do the impossible, and that He is eager to shower you with all the hope you need to have a glorious future. Jesus came to this earth to show us that placing our trust in God would bring us the binding hope that our lives are in His capable hands. The prophet knew that, no matter what was happening with Israel, as it was being destroyed due to their lack of faith and obedience, God was in full control of the situation and that His salvation of Israel would someday be revealed. The prophet also knew that he must continue to wait on and seek the Lord continually for the things that God had ordained for the future.
Thankfully, the prophet's hope was not misplaced. The salvation of the Lord truly came for everyone on the day Jesus was born on this earth. When this child became a man, he had great joy in His heart because He placed His hope in the Father. Even though He knew that His ministry would cause Him an early death, Jesus had a peace about Him that everyone could see. Jesus had the hope of the world in not only His words and deeds, but also in the way He carried Himself daily.
One of the greatest ways our hope in Jesus should manifest itself in our lives is in the way we deal with evil. Are you consumed by evil to the point of wanting to give in to every temptation you face? Do you let the evening news send you into a depressed mood because the bad news never seems to end? Does terrorism and war have you wanting to hide under your bed, frightened to show yourself outside the four walls of your home? One final question: does the fear of dying cause you to look for every discovery you can find that will prolong the inevitable? You must face it – someday you are going to die. As Christians, we have hope in Jesus in knowing that God has a plan for this world, and that it turns out good for all those who put their trust and hope in Him. There is a purpose for evil --whether you believe it or not – and that is to get us to focus on the hope that Jesus brings us when we believe in Him. Jesus has a hope for our future and a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11 – "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."). Only He can bring good out of all the evil we see before us day after day.
By far the greatest hope that God gives us is the ability to know where we will go when we die. Satan wants to convince you that, no matter whether you have been saved or not, you will not go to Heaven. He wants you to give into to every bit of evil that he can produce, thereby making you believe that no matter what you do, and no matter how much you sin, you will get to Heaven without being saved. He wants you to believe that you should give in to every temptation he sends your way. Placing your hope in Jesus Christ means that Satan's evil ways can no longer harm you. Make no mistake, there is only one way to Heaven, and it is not Satan's way. Let the hope of the Lord permeate through your life in such a way that evil can no longer consume you.
Jesus will not leave me as an orphan.
What is an orphan? Is it just someone who has to face life alone without the love, care, and protection of a parent? Or could the word also mean something else? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online says that an orphan is also "one deprived of some protection or advantage." What form of protection is a person being deprived of when it comes to spiritual matters? What is the advantage to having this protection?
First, let's look at the word protection. Merriam-Webster defines protection as: the state of being protected; supervision or support of one that is smaller and weaker. To be protected means: to cover or shield from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction. In the sense of an orphan, we find a loss of supervision and support. In the case of a young child who lost its parents we find that, unless someone quickly intervenes, they will no longer be shielded from exposure, injury, damage, or destruction. The child would soon die from many things if you or I did not step up and help that child. Our parents give us all the protection and protecting we need to thrive as grown individuals in this world. Unfortunately, not all of us have or have had parents to supervise us, and we have had to learn from the world all the ways to take care of ourselves. Very fortunately though, Jesus Christ came into the world to show us the right way to live and thrive as human beings.
In John 14:18, Jesus said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." What an incredible promise! The Son of God will come to us and be our "Parent", to show us the way of truth and right-living. If Jesus were going to leave us as orphans, there would have been no reason for Him to come to earth. He would have just obliterated us and started over. But He didn't, praise the Lord! Without Jesus, we would have no protection whatsoever from the world's evil ways. We would die from exposure to many things like sickness, adultery, pornography, rudeness, drinking, and smoking. Without Jesus, there would be no law to protect us from bodily injury, property damage, or great destruction of our home planet. If God took His Holy Spirit out of this world right at this moment, we would quickly destroy ourselves, as evil completely takes over our judgment, and we begin to act selfishly.
It doesn't take a lot of thought to see that having Jesus in our lives gives us the greatest advantage in making it through this life whole and intact. But the greatest advantage by far as a Christian is in knowing that God's Holy Spirit is in us to not only protect us, but also to teach us the ways of the Father. Let's look a little closer at what the Spirit will do for us when we make Jesus our Lord.
By His Spirit:
Jesus’ hope will not disappoint me.
How many times have you said to yourself, "I hope this pain goes away", "I hope I can just get through this week, and then everything will be just fine", or "I hope my kids never take drugs?" When you say things like these, just who are you placing your hope in? Are you just popping these hopes into the air and waiting for someone, anyone, to answer them? Do you think that there is some mystical being out there who would pick your hopes out of a jar and choose whether to help you or not? If you do not have Jesus in you, then you are playing the game of Russian roulette with your hopes being answered. But, if you have made Jesus the Lord of your life, then you have someone who hears every hope you have, and will respond to them quickly, and in a way you never thought was possible.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, we have the Spirit living inside of us who hears every hope and prayer we say with our mouths and in our minds. Even when we don't know what to pray, the Spirit does so for us. Romans 8:26 says to us that, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. The Holy Spirit even knows our hopes better than we do, since we are His temple here on earth. We may not always know what we are thinking, but the Spirit does, every second of every day. The Spirit never sleeps; even when we do, He is constantly searching our minds to find things to pray for us. The Spirit gives us the hope that every need we have is being taken care of, even when we don't realize what the need is and how to pray for it. For Romans 5:5 exclaims to us, "And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
By His strength:
My hope in Jesus will strengthen me.
How many times a day do you run out of strength, both physically and mentally? How about spiritually? Have you ever given any thought to how strong you are spiritually? Do you even believe in spiritual things? Well, you should… God created all of us as both physical and spiritual beings. Think of these two states as body and soul. Think of your body as the place where your spirit resides. And just as we need to eat and exercise to keep our bodies strong, we also need to feed ourselves spiritual food so that our spirits will be strong, too.
Some would say that this food comes from reading and studying the Word of God, and it does. But do you know that Jesus Himself is also food for our souls. In John 6:35, Jesus told us that He is the true bread of life: "Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." If Jesus and His Holy Spirit are living within us, then we have all the spiritual food we will ever need to get through each day's troubles. As the Prophet Isaiah tells us in the book that bears his name, "…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31)." In the verses preceding this one, Isaiah tells of how the Creator "gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (40:29)." We can take this to mean both physically and spiritually. God gives us the hope, through Jesus Christ, that He will sustain us in body and soul, so that we may do the work He has gifted us to do. When others who have no hope see this hope in us, they too may want to know this sustainer of souls, and may want to live out their lives doing what God has created them to do.
Jesus’ power is made perfect in my weaknesses.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9)."
The Apostle Paul cried out to God three times to take away the thorn in his flesh. No one knows exactly what this "thorn" was, but it is believed that Paul suffered from an ailment of some kind, and wanted God to remove it so he could go about spreading the Gospel without the distraction of the pain and discomfort of this ailment. We'll have to wait until Heaven to ask Paul what that ailment was, but Paul shows us by his statement that, while God does care very much about our hurts and pain, He will not always take them away from us.
The world can't figure out why God doesn't heal every one of their diseases and conditions. They say that, if God is such a loving God, then why doesn't He make it so we never get sick or hurt? Why doesn't He cure AIDS and Cancer? Does He get pleasure out of watching people He could help go through the agony that life causes us every day? Yes, He could heal us all, but He doesn't, for many reasons I have explored in a previous article (Why Do I Suffer – The Purpose).
If you look at the above scripture very closely, you can see the reason why Paul was not healed, and why we in turn are not always healed when we ask of God. Who would you listen to more when it comes to how Jesus can change a life from dust to glory? Would it be someone who has lived a life of ease, where nothing bad every really happened to him (yes, there are some in this world who have lived lives without meaning because they have never really suffered in any way). Suffering for them is just a nuisance. They've never lost a job, had an illness that controls their daily existence, or ever been sick enough to need a lengthy hospital stay for multiple operations. These kinds of people would never see their need for a Savior because their lives are too easy. They rely on their own strength because that's all they need –themselves.
Or would you listen to someone who had gone through a divorce because her spouse left her with the kids to raise alone? Or someone who is in a wheelchair for the rest of their lives because some drunk driver ran into their car on the highway? How about someone who was sexually abused as a child and tried to commit suicide five times just to get away from the pain? Wouldn't these be the kinds of people you'd want to tell you about how Jesus turned their lives from lives of pain, suffering, and heartache, into lives worth living? I know that I would. That's how I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior.
In the scripture above we find that, no matter what we are going through, we have the hope straight from God that His grace is sufficient for us to make it through all of our trials. What the world criticizes us for a weakness, God calls a strength. It is in our weakness where God shows us, and the world, His great strength at helping us get through this life. Where you were once weak at getting drunk or high, you are now strong in helping others make it out of their drunken life. Where you once had cancer, you can now give comfort to someone who is going through their third round of chemotherapy. Where you were once a victim of sexual child abuse, you can now help a young, or old, woman learn how to make sense out of her life, and how to trust others again. So you see, our weaknesses are, to God, our greatest assets, no matter what the world around us thinks. From now on, don't look at your weaknesses as failures in your life or your body. Look at them as God sees them – an opportunity to reach others for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as Paul did, boast about your weaknesses, and let God show the world just how strong they can be if they let Him be their strength.
By His wisdom:
Jesus’ wisdom will brighten my future.
And lastly, "In the same way, wisdom is sweet to your soul. If you find it, you will have a bright future, and your hopes will not be cut short (Proverbs 24:14/NLT)." To the world, Jesus' wisdom is strange and confusing. Give to get? Love your enemies? But, while the world is trying to figure Jesus out, as a believer, you have true wisdom that cannot be taken from you because your source is Jesus Christ Himself. And therein lays your greatest hope. The wisdom of Jesus will always lead you to the right path and keep you on it. Always listen to the Holy Spirit and you will never go astray. Put all of your hope in the One who died to save your soul for Himself. He loves you. Let Jesus Christ lead you down the path to a future so bright, you will never look behind you to see what you've lost, because all you will want is what He has for you up ahead. Behind us is Death – in front of us is Life. Keep on looking forward.