It strikes me that many American Christians think they are exempt from any kinds of struggles and afflictions. In many churches people hear messages about how they deserve to be blessed and free of troubles. It is true there are verses in the Bible that do say that those who follow God will experience blessing. However, there are many other verses that describe the challenges faced by those who follow God. Here St. Paul talks about his experience as a follower of God:
“Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;...” (2 Corinthians 6:4)
As I worship with refugees every Sunday, I am reminded that many of my fellow believers in Jesus Christ around the world do not have easy lives. We sit in an air conditioned room on comfortable chairs; in Africa they would be sitting on wooden planks under a tin room or on the ground under a tree. We worship in freedom; in China we would be sitting in fear that we would be found and imprisoned.
Yes, there are blessings for following Jesus; but, the blessings come to those who understand that suffering is part of journey:
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him”( James 1:12).
Ronald Friesen © 2015