Scripture Reading: Genesis 16:9-10
“And the angel of the Lord said unto her: ‘Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.’ And the angel of the Lord said unto her: ‘I will greatly multiply thy seed, and it shall not be numbered for multitude.'”
When the Angel of the Lord asked Hagar, “Whence camest thou?” it was not because He didn’t know, but because He was giving Hagar an opportunity to unburden her heart.
He addressed her as “Sarai’s handmaid” — reminding her of her lowly position, and the debt she owed her mistress. He told her that she must return to her mistress and submit herself to her.
A lot of our suffering comes because we refuse to submit to the will of God. We see our “taskmasters” as evil, not realizing that God is often using them to refine us and make us into the image of Christ.
If we seek to escape from the Cross we will harm ourselves. Besides, it is impossible! We will meet it everywhere we go! The cross will confront us, and wait for us to accept it.
The writer of “The Imitation of Christ” truthfully states, “Thou canst not escape it (the cross), whithersoever thou runnest: for wheresoever thou goest, thou carriest thyself with thee, and shalt ever find thyself.”
True greatness comes through great suffering.
But the Lord does draw a line between suffering through the dealings of God in our lives and suffering for our sins.
If you feel your soul is being condemned by God, and that God cannot forgive you, then God is not in that kind of suffering. It is an affliction put upon you by Satan, for God will not allow you to suffer above what you are able to bear. He will always make a way of escape for you (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will always forgive.
You must know the difference between suffering for righteousness sake, and suffering because you are being afflicted by Satan to the degree that you could lose your own soul! The Scripture says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you; Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:7-8).
Accept the crucified life, and the Crucified One will come and walk with you. His Presence will bring such sweet and fragrant perfume to your soul that you will “enjoy” your suffering.
A Christian pastor who suffered great torture under Communism told me that the happiest days of his life were when he was in prison, being interrogated nightly and beaten with rubber truncheons until he would become unconscious from the pain. He said, “That was when Jesus was so close to me that I almost felt that I was in Heaven.”
When we accept this kind of a Cross, we are able to live on another level, a level where the things of this world become strangely dim, in the Light of His Glory and Grace.
In the Beginning by Gwen Shaw
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