Climbing The Impossible Mountains With God

Today’s post comes from Mark Dunagan. I trained with Mark at the 5th street church of Christ from Sept. 2015 to Sept. 2017. Mark has been preaching and teaching God’s word for 28+ years and is currently on a trek around the country with his wife Cindy, visiting and encouraging the Lord’s people wherever they go.

They maintain a website where you can find links to their online Bible studies, Bible study material, and Cindy’s blog you can find that at nomadsyouandi.com. You can also subscribe to Mark’s blog “On The Road with Mark” by emailing him at mdunagan@frontier.com. Just say you would like to be added to the list.

Here is today’s post from Mark:

One of the beneficial things about the Bible is that it does not deny the existence of suffering.  Neither does it offer some plan by which suffering can be avoided.  By contrast, opting for the narrow way, the high road, the road of honesty and truth, will bring suffering (Matthew 5:10-12; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12).  The answer to suffering is not to make others suffer because you are in pain, or retreat into hedonism, but rather to live as godly as we can (1 Peter 2:18ff). 

In addition to such valuable and practical truths, we also need to remember:

1.   We have the option of choosing our suffering, not avoiding it, but rather which suffering we will choose.  The Christian chooses the suffering that comes from self-denial, serving others, and speaking the truth in an ungodly world.  Just remember you are choosing, and everyone does.  When you are confronted with the gospel and opt out, “No thanks, that would make me unpopular with my friends and would create division in my family.”  Just realize that you are not avoiding suffering; instead, you are only delaying it.  You are choosing to bypass some current suffering for even greater suffering in the future, and I am not just talking about eternal suffering, which is real.  If you pass on the truth, you create far more suffering in your earthly future.  Such reminds me of the generation alive in Judea when Jesus was crucified.  They opted to get rid of Jesus because He was making things complicated for them, and as a result, they chose the horrific suffering that came upon the nation in A.D. 70 when the wrath of God wiped Jerusalem off the map.  The wisdom of Caiaphas was that Jesus had to die so the nation could survive politically.  Wrong.  The nation ended, along with it, all the remaining outward forms of the Old Testament faith, i.e., the genealogies, priesthood, and Temple. 

2.   Thus, learn the lesson. Conflict avoided is only conflict multiplied.

3.   Involvement in sin may delay or avoid suffering for righteousness and doing some hard things at the moment, but it only amplifies the suffering that will show up sooner than later. 

4.   The suffering that comes from following Christ can be beneficial and purifying. In comparison, the suffering that comes from being selfish and a rebel can become just plain dumb and pointless suffering.  You have the choice as to whether your suffering is productive or useless.

5.   Make sure you are afraid of or fear the right thing.  Don’t fear being unpopular, the multitude (mob), or losing your job because of your faith.  Fear God, and fear what you will become if you compromise yourself. Fear the darkness inside you.  Fear what you are capable of doing, of selling everyone else out, if you stop following the truth.  I just heard a story about a woman who had remarried later in life, and now, in her 70s, her unbelieving husband, who has health problems, announced he wanted a divorce, and she had to move out.  Fear that! Fear becoming so self-absorbed that you would go back on your vows and throw an aged spouse under the bus.  Fear becoming that demonic—and it is wicked—no apologies from me for labeling it as such. 

6.   There is no safe path in life that involves avoiding honesty and responsibility. 

7.   No one gets away with anything; you will reap what you have sown; even non-Christians can see this, and they often call it Karma.  The chickens come home to roost. It will come back around like a boomerang.

8.   Saying what is false, acting out what is a lie, is the road to hell, literally.  The more lies that you tell or embrace, the more people you are taking with you. 

9.   The way to deal with suffering is not to avoid it.  Rather face it intensively, voluntarily, and head-on—more than that.  To see the good in it, to see what you will become by following the example of Christ (James 1:2-4).  To freely and joyfully choose that path.

10. Don’t aim at being happy.  Forget about that.  You will need something more robust than the desire to be happy to get you through life. 

Look at life as a sequence of impossible mountains to climb.  Consider what Abraham goes through even before he is told to offer up his son (Genesis Chapters 12-18).  Uprooted from all he knows, taken from the familiar, then famine, fear, dangerous people, problems with extended family, war and going to war, then conflict with his wife, and extreme complications from a blended family.  God did not call Abraham to “be happy.”  You will need a goal far more robust than happiness, feeling good, or comfort.  You will need a harrowing adventure that demands all you got, that justifies the suffering.

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