Saturday, June 1, 2019 -
“…Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
The Apostle Paul penned these words in hope of the resurrection of our bodies from the dead when we will be made complete with Christ. That is the upward call Paul is referring to that we should be looking forward to.
I realize I could easily dwell on my current circumstances, and at times the devil tries very hard to discourage me in this aspect. Yet throughout Scripture, I know God provides me with many reasons He is allowing afflictions in the life of me, Kathie, and my family. God has many things He wants us to learn. He is teaching us obedience (Psalm 119:67), greater knowledge of God’s Word (Psalm 119:71), and His ultimate deliverance (Psalm 34:19) for which we are to wait on with a strong heart (Psalm 27:14). For we learn that if we cast all our anxiety on Him because He cares for us (I Peter 5:7), He will daily carry our burden (Psalm 68:19). Psalm 119:75 says, “in faithfulness, you (the Lord) have afflicted me!” God is sovereign, and even His own Son had to suffer more than I could ever imagine. It wasn’t easy for Him. He agonized over the thought of it (Luke 22:42-44), even to the point of sweating blood. His suffering for us was greater than anything we could imagine, so why shouldn’t we be willing to suffer for Him? In fact, I am told, “in everything give thanks” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Never before have I had an opportunity to spend the time I have now in God’s Word, and to seek Him and His presence. Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15). And so in suffering, we must remain faithful, and look forward to the purpose God has in store for us.
This I know goes not just for those who are enduring affliction, but for those who cling to their past – whether it be past mistakes or regrets. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). To cleanse us means to make us new, which means there is no reason to dwell on the past.
James says, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You, too, be patient, strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8). He goes on, “As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful” (James 5:10-11)… “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13). My cellmate “J” has a tattoo that says, “Exhale the past, Inhale the future,” and another that says, “Don’t let the past define you.” That sums it up well.