I just got done watching InTouch with Dr. Charles F. Stanley. I was convicted that I may have been sending the message that once you are rightly related to God, through faith in His Son Jesus’ death on the cross paying for your sins, that everything after is peace, joy and love. Dr. Stanley said that some things we can only learn as we experience pain and suffering; suffering from obeying God, and suffering from not obeying God.
Suffering from not obeying God makes sense. God has the best planned for us. If we don’t do what He says we can suffer the natural consequences of not positioning ourselves for His best.
But what about when we obey God and there is pain and suffering? Does that mean God has abandoned us? Does that mean it is pointless to serve God? God says through Jesus in the Bible that when we suffer for doing good there is blessing.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Jesus, Matthew 5:11-12, NKJV
I have personal experience of this being true. When I first became a Christian I told a person close to me about Jesus and what He had done for me. They hurled their vehement anger towards God, at me. Later, they told me a very sad cynical sexually-themed joke and when I didn’t laugh they accused me of thinking the joke was funny but being a hypocrite and not laughing. They continued to insult me personally and Christians in general as evil, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, hypocrites. The experience was painful, God insulated me from the worst of it by taking it upon Himself, and I didn’t say anything negative back to this person. (I wasn’t strong enough at that time to return good for evil, the best I could do was not retaliate).
What was my reward? Many years later I was thinking about what happened and I realized, that by obeying Jesus, and doing what did not come naturally, I had loved this person. I had done what was in their best interest. I had told them about the love of God and demonstrated it by not returning evil for evil. And that was worth more to me than gold or homes or cars. That truly was a “great reward”.
It can be very painful following God, but God always works everything out for our good. And He also works out everything so that the world can know who He truly is. As Dr. Charles F. Stanley says, “Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him.”