Moving Through

A couple of my friends are going through challenging health situations. Both suffer from chronic pain and are not finding relief. They have prayed many times that their suffering would be eased or stop, but it seems God keeps answering, “No.” Now they are battling discouragement on top of the pain and other physical difficulties they face daily. In talking with one of them this week, we dug a bit deeper into this verse:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (I Peter 5:10, ESV)

On first reading, it seems this verse promises that God will rescue us from ongoing suffering. But could the verse be saying something different? Could it be telling us what to expect as we continue to suffer? Let’s look at what God promises to do: restore, confirm, strengthen and establish.

After you have suffered a little while, God will restore you. We want this to mean He will restore us to our pre-suffering state. We want anything we have lost to be returned to us. We want it to be as if our suffering had never happened. But let’s consider another interpretation. Pretend the suffering is a hurricane-strength wind. When it first hit, you may have stumbled, staggered, been knocked around, or even fallen. You were caught off-guard and became overwhelmed by the force pushing against you. But after a while, you adjust to the pressure. Rather than being pushed further away, you are able to maintain your position. Perhaps that is the restoration God describes here. Situations that bring suffering may catch us by surprise and cause our faith to stumble. At first, we may forget about God, question Him, or doubt Him. But after a little while, we remember Him, we stop asking “why”, and we believe He is present and aware. We are restored to a place where we can connect with Him, where our faith is engaged and active. This is where we experience far more life.

Early in Jesus’ ministry His disciples were caught off-guard when many followers left Jesus after hearing a hard teaching. I believe an example of restoration is recorded in Simon Peter’s response when Jesus asked the Twelve if they would leave, too:

Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (John 6:68, NIV)

After you have suffered a little while, God will confirm you. The Greek word translated “confirm” means to make firm, to render constant. After you are restored — able to maintain your position — you realize how much force you must exert against the wind — or the struggle you face — to maintain your balance and footing. In a spiritual sense, standing firm comes from remembering God’s truth about yourself, Him and your relationship. Truth gives us power to go through our struggles hand-in-hand with Jesus. Far more life is not the absence of struggle, but standing firm with Jesus in our struggles.

The rest of Simon Peter’s response to Jesus in the encounter described above shows he is confirmed, grounded in truth:

We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God. (John 6:69, NIV)

After you have suffered a little while, God will strengthen you. This is the only place the Greek word translated “strengthen” appears in the New Testament. It means that something is made strong but mobile, able to move to achieve something in the most effective way. Hanging onto something strong allows us to stay upright against the gale-force winds of suffering. But Jesus offers us more than an immobile pillar; He offers a strength that allows us to move through our suffering effectively to achieve His purpose. Far more life is not stagnant, it is continuing with Christ through our struggles.

This plea and encouragement Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth describes the result of being strengthened during adversity:

…Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. (I Corinthians 15:58, NIV)

After you have suffered a little while, God will establish you. The word establish means to make the soul stable, to lay a solid foundation. Suffering serves an important role in our spiritual growth and prepares us for future service and growth. This is one aspect of good that God works through our suffering; our faith becomes more solid and stable, resting more firmly on Christ. We believe God’s promises more fully because we have experienced them in action. Far more life is unshakeable because it is stable and solid.

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. (Matthew 7:24-25, NIV)

Our foundation of faith allows us to move with Christ through our suffering. And that experience prepares us for the next challenge we will face. Throughout our lives, we have the opportunity to keep establishing our connection to Christ with every hardship. If we turn to God in our suffering, he will continue to restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. We will keep finding far more life in our suffering.

Sisters,
Are you currently suffering? If so, how has not being rescued impacted your faith?
How has God restored you during this or previous suffering?
How have you experienced God confirming you?
How has He strengthened you to continue doing His will?
How have you been established through suffering?
Thank God for giving you far more life in the midst of suffering. (And thank Him that one day all suffering will end for His children — what a glorious day that will be!)
-Shari

Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso

At the Name of Jesus

While waiting for our children to be born, my husband and I undertook an important task: choosing a name. It felt like a huge responsibility, selecting the name that would carry this child through life. The name had to be just right: not too cumbersome or common; not too formal or weird; not too old for a newborn or too young for an octogenarian. The syllables had to flow well. It had to evoke positive emotion — at least in us, the parents. So many considerations! Part of the challenge was defining someone we had yet to meet. Would the name we chose fit the person God was adding to our family?

A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1, GW)

A name is much more than a word. We answer when called by name. Others know us by our name. When people hear our name, they have an image or impression of us. It describes us and become part of our identity; it is a symbol, a representation, of who we are.

Names are very important to God. Throughout the Bible, names and their meanings are explained. In fact, angels told Mary and Joseph the name God had chosen for His Son:

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. (Luke 1:31, NASB)

She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21, NASB)

Jesus means to deliver, to rescue, or he saves. What a big name — and life mission — for a baby to grow into! While Mary and Joseph were relieved of the task of choosing a name, I imagine they pondered how a child — their child — could live up to all this name implied.

But Jesus did grow into His name. He fulfilled His God-given purpose on earth. He delivered people from the power of sin and death. He saved people from the punishment they deserve for their sin. He will return to rescue people from the presence of sin and death. We find far more life in Jesus, in His deliverance, His salvation, and His rescue.

When we hear a name mentioned we react to it based on our experiences with that person. We may feel sad when hearing the name of a loved one who is deceased. We may feel joy at the name of a long-lost friend. We may feel a surge of love hearing the name of a person or pet that is especially dear to us. We may feel anger or pain at the name of someone who has wronged us. We may feel hope and anticipation hearing the name of a person we are about to meet for the first time.

People also react to the name of Jesus. Currently, His name is often used as a curse word, a term of contempt or disgust. But one day every person who has ever lived will react to His name this way:

…God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NASB)

Imagine what it will be like when everyone reacts with reverence to the name of Jesus. It gives me goosebumps just to think about everyone giving Him the response He deserves! I believe in that moment we, God’s daughters, will experience far more life as never before. I believe His presence will fill our hearts with more love, joy, and peace than we can imagine. I think we will gain a deeper understanding of Jesus as our deliverer, rescuer, and Savior.

Fortunately, we do not have to wait until Jesus returns to have far more life. We can begin living in fellowship with Him during this lifetime. Think of how rich life would be with a best friend who is:

  • Immanuel; God with us (Matthew 1:23)
  • Faithful (Revelation 19: 11)
  • True (Revelation 19:11)
  • The Light of the World (John 8:12)
  • The Way (John 14:6)
  • Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
  • Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
  • The Word of God (Revelation 19:13)
  • King of Kings (Revelation 19:16)
  • Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16)

Jesus is all of these and more to each person who calls on His name.

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. (Joel 2:32, NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10, NIV)

Consider the incredible love that the Father has shown us in allowing us to be called “children of God”—and that is not just what we are called, but what we are. (I John 3:1, PHILLIPS)

Being able to call on Jesus and receive the name “child of God” is a great privilege. Living in His name and experiencing far more life is an honor. And one day, on our knees, we will have the joy of calling out the name of our Deliverer, Rescuer, and Savior.

Sisters,
What does the name of Jesus mean to you?
Are there any of His names (characteristics) you doubt?

Are there any barriers that prevent you from calling Him your best friend and experiencing far more life?
Experience far more life by being alert to how His names are active in and around you.
-Shari

Copyright 2019-20, Shari Damaso