Saturday, March 21, 2015

School of suffering

Back to school
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hebrews 4:14-5:10

TO CHEW ON: "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8

Three things strike me about this passage and in particular, the verse on which I'm focusing:

1. Who the subject is: It's Jesus—God in human flesh.

2. What He learned: Obedience.
[Obedience is hypakoe  comes from hup - "under" and akouo - "to hear." The word signifies attentive hearing, to listen with compliant submission, assent, and agreement. It is used for obedience in general, for obedience to God's commands and for Christ's obedience - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1621.]

3. How He learned it: through Suffering.

I have, in the last couple of months, worked on a Bible study for my church on the subjects of fear, worry and anxiety. This study has brought me face to face with my own fear of suffering. But if I or any of us have come to God and entrusted our lives to Him in the hope that this will preserve us from suffering, we're deluded. Because that is never His promise. Here we see that even Jesus was not spared suffering.

Some things that have been carved into my awareness as I've searched the Bible and pondered this topic:

  • Though God doesn't promise to keep us from suffering, He promises to be with us in it and bring us through it - Isaiah 43:1,2,5.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.

... Do not be afraid, for I am with you..." Isaiah 43:1,2,5 (emphasis added)
  • A good way to conquer our fear of suffering is to live close to Him. Barbara Billett prefaces her "Uprooting the Spirit of Fear" prayer with a pep talk about Caleb and Joshua and their fearlessness. She says:
"The reason we have trouble trusting God is that we have not become intimately acquainted with God's ways … Joshua had intimate fellowship with God … He lingered in the presence of God and got to know God and to trust God at His word (Exodus 33:9,11) (emphasis added).
  • This closeness to God implies obedience. Billett again:
"Because Joshua and Caleb had intimate fellowship with God, God's word to them was magnified over any fear, unbelief or temptation to not follow the Lord" - Barbara Billett, Praying With Fire, p. 66 (emphasis added).
  • This suffering is not capricious or arbitrary, but works toward a God-ordained purpose - Romans 8:28,29.
"In heaven we shall see that we had not one trial too many" - Charles Spurgeon.

Dear God, If Jesus had to learn obedience through suffering, why not I? Help me to stay close to You as You teach me suffering's lessons. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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