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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Studying God's Word

I am thankful today for the opportunity and ability to study God's Word.  I am thankful for the ability to read and comprehend the truths in God's Word and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as my teacher Who helps me learn and most importantly apply what I've read.

I've spent the past five Monday nights meeting with a group of ladies and reading through and discussing Ligon Duncan's "Does Grace Grow Best in Winter?"  The book has tackled the issue of suffering in the world and what our response as believers should be.

We finished our study last night with the last chapter, "What Should We Think Of Jesus' Suffering?"

How would you answer that question?

The reality of Jesus' suffering is well established in Scripture, especially through passages like Isaiah 53.  Jesus was a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief".  Because of this, Jesus "is able to sympathize with us in all that we endure and experience in this fallen world."  Jesus was the sinless Son of God and so He sympathizes better than a sinful, earthly high priest and is our Mediator Who understands our problems. This should give us great comfort in the midst of our own suffering.

L. Duncan, in the book, makes three points about Jesus' suffering:
  1. He suffered with us:  "Whatever you are suffering right now, Jesus has been there."
  2. He suffered without us:  "You could spend an eternity in heaven and never meet a person who experienced being utterly forsaken by God - except Jesus Christ.  He's the only person in heaven who knows what it is to have the Father turn his back on him, leaving him all alone.  He is the only person in heaven who knows what it is to look down into the white-hot volcano of the wrath of God and survive."
  3. He suffered for us:  In two places under this section we spent much of our discussion on Monday night.  Take in these two statements by Duncan - "Jesus did not come to empathize with you in your suffering.  Jesus came to bear your suffering.  Get this if you don't get anything else.  Jesus came to bear a punishment that would have destroyed you."  "The Christian's suffering in this life, the, is nothing compared to what it would have been were it not for the Lord Jesus Christ.  When it is as bad as it can possibly be, it is never as bad as it ought to be, because He has suffered for us.  In the hardest places of our lives, in the deepest suffering and the darkest hours and the blackest nights, in times when sorrow and tribulation overwhelm your very souls, and you feel as if the Lord cannot hear your cry, you are never standing where Jesus stood."
He ends the book with giving us several "lines" to draw in regards to suffering:
  • Draw a line from our suffering back to sin.  Duncan encourages the believer to learn to hate sin like we hate suffering.
  • Draw a line from our suffering back to Jesus.  "Our suffering enables us to treasure Jesus' sufferings more and puts our suffering in perspective...The way to cope with our suffering is not to minimize it, but to realize the depth of Jesus' sufferings.  We can look honestly in the mirror and say,'Yes, it is terrible, but Jesus' sufferings were greater.'  Such a transforming attitude will inevitably lead to worship".
  • Draw a line from our suffering to the Body of Jesus.  "The Lord often sends his people out to die, metaphorically, if not literally, but through the ashes of their loss he brings life.  God manifests, to us and to the whole body, His power in our weakness."
  • Draw a line from our suffering to its purposes.  The ultimate goal of all our lives, whether in times of pleasure or of pain, is to glorify God.
I would love to hear your thoughts.  What are you thankful for today?

Counting it all Joy,