YOUR COMPANION IN TRIBULATION-3
A Scripture-taught Christian would never asks, "Why am I suffering?", but would rather ask, "Am I
suffering aright?". Suffering is of two kinds, coming to three classes of people. First one is destructive
suffering. "The sinner in rebellion against God" sows seeds of self-destruction. Like the prodigal son who
went astray in a spirit of rebellion and self-dependence, sinners find them selves amidst great shame,
want and hunger. When the wayward boy realised his condition he cried out, "I perish with hunger".
Isaiah tells us about the idolater, who left the true God, "He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath
turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" (Isa.44: 20).
The second class of sufferers are those who are born again but living a life of carnality. Their theoretical
knowing has not become practical living. Their positional sanctification has not been worked out into
practical sanctification. God has worked in His great salvation (Phil.2:13), but they have not "worked
out" their salvation with fear and trembling. They have obtained "precious faith" as 2 Pet.1:1 tells us,
through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. They are given exceeding great and
precious promises (2 Pet.1 :4) but these, content with their initial experience have not given all diligence
to add to their faith virtue; to their virtue knowledge; to their knowledge temperance; to their temperance
patience; to their patience godliness; to their godliness brotherly kindness; to their brotherly kindness
charity. These things were not added and therefore they turned barren and unfruitful (2 Pet. 1 :5-8).
1 Pet.4:15 tells us about four such people. The murderer who engages in character -assassination in the
Body of Christ; the thief who robs that which is of Christ for his personal ends; the evil-doer who
schemes the downfall of others and the busybody who interferes in other men's matters. The prodigal son
could also be an illustration of the backslidden believer. In fact, the son fits in more to a believer than an
unbeliever. Notice where the fall began. It began when the son was in the house, with the servants, under
the father. The sheep may be lost in the wilderness but the coin and the son were lost right within the
house. Going by this chapter of Luke 15 and the three stories, two-thirds of the lost people seem to be
inside God's House, than outside it. The percentage of the lostness is more inside the house than outside.
One in a hundred lost in the wilderness, but one out of ten pieces of silver lost inside the house. The
percentage of lostness in the wilderness is one percent, while in the house it is 10% and coming to the
climax story of the prodigal son, the percent age of lostness is 50%. How shocking! We confront an
unpleasant truth here. More believers are lost inside the Church than outside it. These three stories speak
of three aspects of a believer's rebellion; the sheep through self righteousness, the coin through self -pity
and the son through self-will. Isa.53:6 tells us that "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned
everyone to his own way". Prov.14:12 tells us why we turn to our own way. "There is a way which
seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death". Such a self-righteous believer is
difficult to reach out. Ecclesiastes4:13 tells us, "Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish
king, who will no more be admonished". Secondly, "self-pity" of the coin. The hiddenness in the dust, in
the darkness, right within the house is not a mark of humility but a mark of depression and self-pity.
Some have so many arguments to tell us why they do not like to involve in the ministry of the church,
than they have for involvement. They prefer silent martyrdom to active involvement. Thirdly, "self- will".
The younger son, lived with the father, ate the best food, was served constantly by the servants but he
failed to appreciate these privileges as they came to him freely by birth. As days go by, we can get used
to the blessings of God that we ignore Manna and crave for the leeks and onions of Egypt. As the father
allowed the son to leave, God allows us in our mad course of self-will till we are back on the track
saying, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against thee; I am no more worthy to be called thy son.
Make me one of thy hired servants". Such a suffering did not contribute to the development of the son or
to the glory of the father.
The third class of sufferers are those blessed people who suffer for the right causes, bringing glory to
God, blessing to others and rewards to themselves. Such a holy company suffer atleast for four important
reasons and John the beloved apostle belonged to this holy company.
The Bible tells us clearly that as believers we pay a cost for following Christ. Matt.5:11 tells us, "Blessed
are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely,
for my sake". Here is suffering for the sake of Jesus Christ. It is a guilt by association. The Man called
Christ was "despised and rejected of men" (lsa.53:3). "He came unto his own, and his own received him
not" (John1: 11). "For neither did his brethren believe in him" (John 7:5). Christ was the most
controversial figure in the days of His earthly ministry. He had a few friends but innumerable enemies.
Those who followed Him in the early days of ministry by looking at His miracles, walked no more with
Him. John 6 speaks to us about the miracle of the loaves, the multitude , who came seeking for Him, and
also many disciples who went back and walked no more with Him (6:66}. The chapter ends with a note
of the betrayer Judas Iscariot w~ was one of the twelve. Forgotten by friends, deserted and betrayed by
disciples. Christ trode the path of unpopularity alone. Such is the lot of every true Christian. There is yet
to be born any other who lived so perfectly like Jesus of Nazareth. Yet His generation called Him
"winebibber and gluttonous" (Luke 7:34), a man beside himself (Mark 3:21 }, a man who had a devil
(John 7:20), a man who is an upstart (John 1:4) who tried to project himself, and a deceiver (Matt.27:63).
The Bible says that,"...none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would' not
have crucified the Lord of glory!" (1 Cor.2:8).
To associate with such a Christ is to invite ridicule and rejection of this world. Christ said, "If the world
hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you" (John 15:18}. At the hour of trial Peter refused to
own up his association with Christ. A damsel confronted Peter outside the palace to say; "Thou also wast
with Jesus of Galilee". Peter said, "I know not what thou sayest"(Matt.26:69;70) Another maid said,
"This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth". Peter denied with an oath," I do not know the man"
(Matt.26:71 , 72).
Today is the hour of rejection for Christ. If we do not suffer with Him, we have no share tomorrow when
He comes in royal splendour to be seated on the Throne. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we
deny him, he also will deny us" (2 Tim. 2:12). To be ashamed of Christ is to be ashamed of the words of
Christ. Not everything that goes by the Name of Christ goes by the Word of Christ. The presence of
25000 Christian denominations should tell us that very very few are Scripture-based. With newer cults
surfacing in the horizon, the Word of, God is either ignored or altered or added to, to nullify it.
"Whosoever therefore shall be-ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation,
of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his I Father with the holy
The end times is marked with a new wave of emotionalism that claims to glorify Christ. The
"blessing-oriented" revival is of great acceptance everywhere. The "laughing" revival, the "vomiting"
revival, have found good congregations. To keep the crowd coming, the preacher must exercise " great
care to keep the cross-centred, self-denying Christianity in the background.
Christian faith is no longer something to be dreaded of. The disciples suffered, saints suffered, martyrs
died their deaths. It is all in the past. Christianity now is very attractive. The change of heart, yielding of
the will, cleansing of the conscience-well, these are not priorities. Come to Christ, love Christ-your
diseases flee, problems get solved. John, the apostle knew of a different faith of a different Christ than the
one commonly preached and presented today. His association with Christ saw him exiled to the lonely
isle of Patmos. His brother James had an early martyr's death. Peter; had already been crucified, upside
down. Stephen was stoned to death. Matthew was slain in Ethiopia. John Mark was dragged in the streets
until he died. Philip was crucified and stoned. Why? All because, they chose to stay with Jesus. Blessed
are those who suffer for His sake and for His Word's sake.
SHE REQUIRED NOTHING
In this fragment "She required nothing", (Esther 2: 15) we see the secret of divine favour. Those who are
going to be joined together as life partners in the presence of God and before His people have a longing
to be blessed by God. The very fact that they want to be joined in the House of God shows their longing
that the Lord may bless their union. They know somehow, unless God blesses their union, whatever they
may do or possess will not bring true happiness in their lives. But God also wants His own divine laws to
be fulfilled before He can bless them. He is the God of blessing, and He desires to bless us as He says in
Heb.6:14, "Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee". That means, as far as
God is concerned He is willing to bless us throughout eternity. It also means, He goes on adding
blessing-to-blessing everyday, every month, every year and throughout the ages. There is no end to it.
What a promise and what a blessing, and that blessing is upon all those who call upon God.
God is not a respecter of persons. Whatever He offers to one He offers to all, provided you are willing to
abide by the divine laws. Whatever He gives is for eternity and in abundance. He wants to give us
everything in fullness and abundance as we read in John 16:24. "Ask..that your joy may be full". These
words were spoken to those disciples who were with Him for three and a half years. During those years,
they saw many miracles performed by our Lord Jesus and were privileged to be with Him when He
performed the miracles.