“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2
Beautiful suffering. Maybe you think I’ve gone crazy. I have. Crazy for Christ. The more I learn about God, the more I seek Him, the more I study His Word, the more time I spend with Him, the more I know His love, mercy, grace, hope, peace, forgiveness, sovereignty, lordship, the more I know Him, the more in love with Jesus I fall, the more crazy about Him I am. And this is exactly why I’m led to write about beautiful suffering. My life’s calling and greatest passion is to love and serve the Lord with all my heart and to help people to become and remain forever followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the deeper I plunge into God’s Word, and the deeper I go in my relationship with God, and the deeper I experience what it is to be a genuine follower of Christ, the deeper I understand that the only way to truly follow Jesus is to die to self, to deny the flesh its lusts, to turn away from the world’s wicked ways, to say no to sin in the strength of Christ, and to say yes in love, faithfulness, loyalty, worship, praise, honor, reverence, fear of, and obedience to God. Beautiful suffering comes with the dying of self to learn to live in and through and for Jesus Christ!
It hurts like heck to deny ourselves the ungodly lusts of our flesh so we can do what God commands us instead. This suffering borne of self-denial is vitally necessary. It goes with the territory of being a Christ follower. But there is such a raw, sweet, magnificent, indescribable, genuine, immeasurable joy and peace and mercy in drawing ever closer to God by drawing ever farther away from our sins. Oh, how the flesh despises to be told NO. But I can attest by experience that the more I follow Jesus, the more I do what God wants instead of what my flesh hungers for, the more I know God’s love, the nearer I am to Him, the more I experience His presence, the more I hear His voice, the more I know He carries me, the more I listen for Him, the more I cry out to Him, the more He hears me, the more my beloved abides in me and I in Him, the nearer we are to one another, the more I realize I have eternity with Him through Christ, the more thankful I am He has rescued me from hell and the lake of fire and promised me eternal life with Him in heaven because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, oh, to know the Lord like this! I desire for you and I to suffer the beautiful suffering of self-denial so we will know to the utmost the unfathomable love, unsurpassable experience, and breathtaking blessedness of Christ. How little then seems the pain of suffering of self-denial in light of the splendor of knowing Him forever!