May 17

     Numbers 26
     Psalms 69
     Isaiah 16
     I Peter 4
''Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this manner." (I Peter 4:16)
  Peter speaks of our sufferings in I Peter 4: 12 as fiery trials that we may think are strange. Actually, there is a strange minister who ministers to all of us. We could call him Rev. Pain, or Bishop Adversity. Not only do bad things happen to good people but, indeed, some of the worst things happen to some of the best people. The question is not if a Christian will suffer, but when he will suffer, and how he will respond. If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a number of experiences that are not meant for you personally at all. They are designed to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what takes place in the lives of others. This should cause you to never be surprised by what comes your way.
  The sufferings of Jesus were not those of ordinary people. He suffered ''according to the will of God'' (I Peter 4: 19), having a different point of view of suffering from ours. It seems that God's way is always the way of suffering - a path with many twists and turns. Are we partakers of Christ's sufferings? Are we prepared for God to stamp out our personal ambitions? Are we prepared for God to destroy individual decisions by supernaturally transforming them? We do not always know why we are going through the suffering when, suddenly, we come to a place of enlightenment and realize, “God has strengthened me and I didn't even know it.”
If you make a choice to suffer, it probably indicates that there is something wrong with you. Choosing God's will, however, even if it means you will suffer, is something very different. No normal, healthy saint ever chooses suffering; he simply chooses God's will just as Jesus did, whether it means suffering or not, and no saint should ever dare to interfere with the lesson of suffering being taught in another saint's life.
  Some people think that Jesus needed sympathy in His life on earth. He refused the sympathy of people because, in His great wisdom, He knew that no one on earth could understand His purpose except His Father and the angels. We sometimes observe the location and ministry of certain saints, and wonder why God would plant them in what seems to be a most useless place. We would call it a waste of the saint. It occurred to me that God really does not need me. I need Him, but He is perfectly capable of performing His plans and purposes without me at all; therefore, I am grateful that God has chosen to use me, and that He places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him. We are totally incapable of judging where that may be, or the course of our life and ministry. We know, however, we can trust Him, and that He will use even sufferings to bring glory to Himself.
  Has it occurred to you that the ministry of suffering may be the most important ministry God allows you to have?  It will produce patience, develop sympathy, and reveal the plan and purpose of God to you and to others.
  One of my favorite countries to visit is the country of Romania in Eastern Europe. The people of this nation are gracious and friendly for the most part. The land is rich in agricultural minerals and oil, but pillaged under Communism. Romania has Europe's third highest population of evangelicals, but the number of evangelical believers has not grown substantially since 1990 in spite of increased missionary involvement. Since 1989, Romania has seen a sustained church planting movement with an average of 5 new church buildings opening every week through 1999. Only a lack of human and material resources prevents this from continuing at such a rate.
  Spend some time today praising God for the Romanian believers who are faithful, even under Communism. Many of them lost their lives and many others were imprisoned, beaten, and persecuted under an evil Communist regime. They are the reason that there is such a significant growth of evangelical churches in Romania today. Along with the growth of the church, we are seeing western influence in many other areas as well. The moral vacuum left by Ceausescu’s Communists has been replaced by every kind of social evil. Substance abuse, prostitution, and violent crime are all on the increase. Romania has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. With freedom has come wealth for a few, but grinding poverty for the majority. Many spend most of their income on food. Pray that the nation's leaders may boldly and uprightly address the problems with wise solutions. Pray that this disastrous legacy might be replaced with one of peace and righteousness.
''Adversity is the diamond dust Heaven polishes its jewels with."  Leighton