– Duane Chapman
YOU DON’T FORGET
I don’t know about you, but I’ve blown it big time in my life. Do you remember learning something the hard way? Doesn’t it make you remember what happened “last time,” whatever that was? The Apostle Paul wrote, “I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13), but instead, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). We should stop tripping over what’s behind us…we need to keep pressing ahead and learn from our mistakes.
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He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:26)
We do not choose suffering simply because we are told to, but because the One who tells us to describes it as the path to everlasting joy.
He beckons us into the obedience of suffering not to demonstrate the strength of our devotion to duty or to reveal the vigor of our moral resolve or to prove the heights of our tolerance for pain, but rather to manifest, in childlike faith, the infinite preciousness of his all-satisfying promises.
Moses “[chose] rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin . . . For he was looking to the reward” (Hebrews 11:25–26). Therefore, his obedience glorified the God of grace, not the resolve to suffer.
This is the essence of Christian Hedonism. In the pursuit of joy through suffering, we magnify the all-satisfying worth of the Source of our joy. God himself shines as the brightness at the end of our tunnel of pain.
If we do not communicate that he is the goal and the ground of our joy in suffering, then the very meaning of our suffering will be lost.
The meaning is this: God is gain. God is gain. God is gain.
The chief end of man is to glorify God. And it is truer in suffering than anywhere else that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11–12)
Christian Hedonism says that there are different ways to rejoice in suffering as a Christian. All of them are to be pursued as an expression of the all-sufficient, all-satisfying grace of God.
One way of rejoicing in suffering comes from fixing our minds firmly on the greatness of the reward that will come to us in the resurrection. The effect of this kind of focus is to make our present pain seem small in comparison to what is coming: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18; cf.2 Corinthians 4:16–18). In making the suffering tolerable, rejoicing over our reward will also make love possible.
“Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, andyour reward will be great” (Luke 6:35). Be generous with the poor “and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14)
Another way of rejoicing in suffering comes from the effects of suffering on our assurance of hope. Joy in affliction is rooted in the hope of resurrection, but our experience of suffering also deepens the root of that hope.
For example, Paul says, “We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3–4).
Here, Paul’s joy is not merely rooted in his great reward, but in the effect of suffering to solidify his hope in that reward. Afflictions produce endurance, and endurance produces a sense that our faith is real and genuine, and that strengthens our hope that we will indeed gain Christ.
Check out the podcast – 10/29/16 Clarity – Suffering