Ah, now there's the million dollar question! Sometimes I just want things the easy way--when I read 2 Peter 1:4, for example, I wish God had just listed out all those great and precious promises!
2 Pet 1:3-4 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Instead of listing them, God beckons us to come, seek Him, search through his Word to see what we can find. There are a few here we can start with--everything we need for life and godliness through His divine power. That's good to know!
I think participating in the divine nature sounds pretty awesome, don't you? We're in good company; Paul thought it did too. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death... Phil 3:10
Ok, well, it sounded good at first. Though this is reality--today for people in the tragic YWAM and church shootings--and sadly in many countries around the world where people are persecuted for their faith. Paul takes it a bit further than maybe we'd care to though. Suffering really isn't part of the American way after all--at first glance it seems to get in the way of the pursuit of happiness. Or does it?
What kind of a person would sing praises to God from a prison cell after being "severely flogged" as Paul and Silas did? (Acts 16:25) Maybe one who realized that by sharing in Christ's sufferings, we will experience His power--we will participate in the divine nature.
We're familiar with power, and we often long for God to use His power to make our lives easier--but I don't see that promised in scripture either.
Or is it?
2 Corinthians 4:6-10 For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body...
Ok...so far I'm seeing hard-pressed, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down--nice promises! Chronic illness. Crushing circumstances. Persecution. This isn't going where I wanted it to! Where's this "easier" part?
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Personally I find this a difficult, even painful, message. There are days when I would feel like punching my computer screen if these words dared appear before me--Dave's illness, disabled for 7 years, our lives turned upside down--this is light and momentary? Insanity! But honestly, those days my eyes are fixed on what is seen--on the pain of seeing Dave when he struggles to walk or speak or can't play with our kids, on the injustice, on the length of time we've called out to God, waiting for an answer (not always patiently).
Glory. Do we have any idea, any at all what that means? Participating in the divine nature--truly? God's power working on our behalf? We want to be strong instead of weak, but Paul says when we are weak, it's obvious that the power is from God.
When my eyes are fixed on the here and now, the weight of despair at what we're going through is magnified. When my eyes are fixed on Him, when I try to contemplate (even if only a tiny bit) His glory, His great purposes--when I am willing to surrender all my life, even my desire to see Dave healed--when I'm willing to accept what God has allowed in my life and ask Him to be glorified through our lives--then I can feel Him carrying my burden, walking with me, comforting me.
Not always--there are times I still feel lost, still feel the pain. Then I pour out my heart and cry until there are no tears left. At the end I try to lie still in my bed and imagine myself curled up in the palm of God's hand. And then I remember this great promise: For God has said, 'Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.' Hebrews 13:5
In Christ, Merry :-)