Friday, August 28, 2015

A note for those who have endured a lifetime of suffering

A note for those who have endured a lifetime of suffering:  Your reward will be in Heaven!

I had the privilege yesterday of a surprise visit with a friend of mine who is a pastor, and he was telling me about some of the horrors of his childhood.  The conclusion was that, even though "the enemy" had done his level best to keep this man from ever knowing God,  יהוה (YHWH) had another goal in mind, which was to ultimately make this man a prison chaplain, reaching those who have lost all hope.  

The thing is, "the adversary" ALWAYS picks on
יהוה’s people in hopes of keeping them so miserable that they will remain focused on their misery instead of on God.   This often happens even way BEFORE they ever get to know our Creator.   Many experience horrific traumatic events, too terrible for words – events that made them want to commit suicide because life in this world was simply too hard - never realizing that that is exactly what the enemy wanted them to do!   After all, if you die an unbeliever, then it’s too late to accept YHWH was your God and Y’shua as His divine Messiah who suffered and died for you!

But it’s often those same people - those who have lived through terrible traumas - who YHWH ends up using in some way for His Glory!  He uses for GOOD what the enemy meant for evil!  He turns our misery around and uses us as light beacons for the lost!  The Torah and the rest of the Tanach teem with people who suffered both before they knew
יהוה, and afterward, once He began to work in their lives.  "The world" HATES believers!

I know many Believers who have gone through proverbial hell over the course of their lives – but in the end, they found their way to YHWH/Y’shua/Torah and began to praise Him for using them to be a “light” to others!

The Shlichim (Apostles) did the same thing.  They endured all kinds of persecution once they accepted Y’shua as their Messiah, but their “lights” continue to shine brightly into the darkness of our modern world.  Sha’ul  (Paul) and the other Apostles were forever admonishing each other and their followers to stay strong:

Philippians 1:29. And this is given to you by Elohim that you not only really believe in the Mashiyach, but also that you suffer on his account; 30. and that you endure conflict, as you have seen in me and now hear concerning me. (AENT)

Philippians 3: 1. Finally, my Brothers, rejoice in our Master (Y’shua). To write these (things) again and again to you is not bothersome to me because they make you more careful.  2. Beware of dogs; beware of evil doers; beware of the circumcised in flesh (alone).  3. For we are the (real) circumcision who worship Elohim in spirit and glory in Y’shua the Mashiyach, and place no reliance on the flesh,[1]  4. And though I might place reliance on the flesh. For, if any one thinks that his reliance should be on the flesh, I might (do so) more than he.  5. Circumcised when eight days old; of the stock of Israel; of the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew, descendant of Hebrews; as to Torah, a Pharisee;  6. as to zeal, a persecutor of the assembly (of Messianic believers); and as to the righteousness of the (Oral) Torah,[1] I was without fault. 

7. But these things which had been my mastery, I have accounted a detriment because of the Mashiyach.  8. And now also I account them all a detriment, because of the superiority of the knowledge of Y’shua the Mashiyach my Master; for the sake of whom I have parted with all things and have accounted (them) as dung that I might gain the Mashiyach[3]  9. and be found in him; since my righteousness is not (now) that from Torah, but that which is from faith in the Mashiyach, that is, the righteousness which is from Elohim;  10. that thereby I might know Y’shua and the power of his resurrection; and might participate in his sufferings and be assimilated to his death:  11. if so be, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  12. Not as though I had already taken (the prize), or were already complete; but I run (in the race), if so I may take that for which Y’shua the Mashiyach took me.
  (AENT)

FOOTNOTES:

[1]   Torah teaches that we must not rely on our flesh (for dust you are, and to dust shall you return), but that we obey our Father YHWH as His children.  We are the real circumcision if we obey YHWH and do His will.  Circumcision counts for nothing if we are unwilling to turn to YHWH’s instructions and follow in the steps of His Mashiyach (Jeremiah 9).  Rav Shaul repeatedly teaches that circumcision of the heart must come first; circumcision of the flesh can never begin to substitute the perfect work of the Ruach haKodesh.

[2]  By including Pharisaic tutelage, Rav Shaul is specifically referencing the “Oral Law” in which he was without fault.  Y’shua rebuked the Pharisees (contrary to popular Christian opinion), for not keeping the Torah of Moshe, but for superseding Torah with their traditions (Matthew 15:1-20).  Y’shua clearly advocates Torah observance (Matthew 5:17-20).  Rav Shaul never referred to the Torah of YHWH as anything detrimental to Faith (Romans 3:31, 7:12).  Rav Shaul quotes extensively from Torah – indeed, from all the Tanakh – to uphold every teaching he puts forth!  There is nothing Paul upholds which is not based in the Torah of YHWH, so those who preach Paul must not be unbelievers, but also follow what Paul taught, which is the Torah of YHWH, not the traditions of men.

[3]  Because Rav Shaul knew that the halacha (way to walk) of Y’shua was superior to that of the Pharisees.  It was not that Y’shua abandoned Torah, Elohim forbid! But that Y’shua understood, clarified and revealed Torah far better than any other teacher that Rav Shaul knew, and Paul associated with the greatest souls within Judaism! (Luke 24:44-45).  Sadly, many have never even been able to enter into the discussion as it pertains to Y’shua, Paul and Torah, as they’ve been led to believe by false religion that Paul was anti-Torah!

Acts 5:  41. And they departed from before them rejoicing that they were worthy because of The Name to be despised.  42. And they would not cease all day to teach in the temple and at home and to preach about our Master Y’shua the Mashiyach.
(AENT)

Romans 8:33. Who will set himself against the chosen of Elohim? It is Elohim who justifies.  34. Who is it that condemns? Mashiyach died and arose and is on the right hand of Elohim, and makes intercession for us.  35. What will sever me from the love of Mashiyach? Will affliction or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or the sword?  36. As it is written: For your sake, we die daily: and we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  37. But in all these things we are victorious by means of him who loved us.  38. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor Messengers nor principalities, nor powers nor things present nor things to come,  39. Nor height nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to sever me from the love of Elohim which is in our Master Y’shua the Mashiyach. (AENT)

2 Timothy:8. Be mindful of Y’shua the Mashiyach, that he arose from the dead; who was of the seed of Dawid, according to my proclamation,  9. in which I suffer evils to bonds as if an evil-doer: but the Word of Elohim is not in bonds.  10. Therefore I endure everything for the elect’s sake; that they also may obtain life in Y’shua the Mashiyach with eternal glory.  11. Faithful is the saying, For if we will have died with him we will also live with him;  12. and, if we will have suffered, we will also reign with him. But if we will have rejected him, he will reject us.

13. And if we will have not believed in him, he abides in his fidelity; for he cannot reject himself.  14. Of these things admonish you them and charge (them) before our Master (Y’shua) that they do not argue with unprofitable words to the subversion of those who hear them.  15. And study to present yourself before Elohim perfectly, a laborer who is not ashamed, one who correctly announces the Word of Truth.  16. Avoid vain discourses in which there is no profit; for they very much add to the wickedness of those occupied with them.  (AENT)

1 Peter 4:  16. But if he suffer as a Kristianay (Greek followers of Yeshua),  let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify Elohim on account of this name.  17. For it is the time when judgment will commence with the house of Elohim: and if it commence with us, what will be the end of those who obey not the Good News of Elohim?  18. And if the righteous scarcely lives, where will those who are against Elohim and the sinner be found!  19. Wherefore, let them who suffer according to the pleasure of Elohim commend their souls to him in well doing as to a faithful Creator.  (AENT)

FOOTNOTE: Kristianay was the label given by Gentiles for Gentile followers of Mashiyach.  Although in one place Gentiles in Antioch referred to the Shlichim as Kristianay, the Shlichim/Apostles themselves never adopted this label. This contrasts the title that Netzari (Nazarenes) adopted (Acts 24:12-14).  Like the citation in Acts, Peter also employs the term used by and for Greek followers, rather than the Aramaic Mishkhanee, indicating that he is specifically encouraging the Greek followers of Y’shua.

There are myriad scriptures referring to the fact that it’s not easy to be a believer in
יהוה and His divine Messiah; that suffering in this world on His behalf is pretty much guaranteed!  Stand strong, my mishpocah (family/ friends)!  Scripture also tells us that those who do this will LIVE.  (This doesn’t mean some won’t be killed in these end times; but rather, that we will have ETERNAL LIFE … an eternity in which to serve our awesome God  – which is HIS ultimate goal for us!)

8 comments:

  1. ... "the adversary" ALWAYS picks on יהוה’s people in hopes of keeping them so miserable that they will remain focused on their misery instead of on God."

    C.S.Lewis spoke on this theme in his book 'The Problem of Pain'. After years of suffering, he too discovered the truth and lived the rest of his life with hope and a sense of purpose - what too many are sadly missing in their lives.

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  2. I like the AENT translation here of Phil 4:12 "I know how to be depressed, and I also know how to abound in everything and in all things am I exercised both in prosperity and in famine, in abundance and in poverty." Anonymous mentioned Lewis. I remember Bible translator and author, J.B. Philips, 'Your God is too Small', facing depression and maybe Rav Shaul was referring to his own physical pain that contributed to his confronting depression? Just a thought.

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  3. Rav Shaul (Paul) gave the nod to have Stephen stoned, I wonder if Paul suffered depression since that time. I wonder if that was his thorn in the flesh? I made a decision years ago that at times, takes me to a very depressed state-of-mind. The enemy may like to see me go there but the good news is that I have learned that the pain of remembering that bad decision is a good teacher. For this, I praise YHWH!

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  4. When I think of my great difficulties in this life and the immense suffering I have had to go through and that I still keep experiencing, I wonder whether it is the consequence of my sins and disobedience to the Torah of YHWH, or the vices of the enemy to trap me and keep me from pursuing my faith to YHWH. Or maybe both? I have been most of my life and still am physically and mentally very weary and ill. I have disobeyed the commandments of the Torah most of my life, only now I am slowly learning to obey. Will the blessings of the Torah then begin to come true in my life as I put away sin and stop disobeying, or will I still keep suffering to the end of my life, because the whole natural world is under sin and nobody escapes the consequences of it and the vices of the enemy that rages around us?

    If it is YHWH's will, I would really like to become well physically and mentally, that would also allow me to focus on His things, rather than myself and my problems. But if I am to suffer like this to the end of my life, so shall it be and I still praise YHWH and serve Him in any way I can, even in this condition.

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    1. Thank you for your heartfelt questions and comments. We are happy to see that you wrote this: “If it is YHWH's will, I would really like to become well physically and mentally, that would also allow me to focus on His things, rather than myself and my problems. But if I am to suffer like this to the end of my life, so shall it be and I still praise YHWH and serve Him in any way I can, even in this condition.”

      THAT is exactly what He is looking for! He desires people who are so completely “whole-hearted” toward Him, they are willing to deal with anything life throws at them! Everything is and can be a true learning experience that draws us ever closer to Him. Just take a look at what His own Son had to endure!

      Yes, of course, you’ll begin to realize some blessings once you give your whole being to Him and begin to obey His Torah to the best of your ability. The trick is not to expect immediate change. It took you a lifetime of messes to get you to the point where you are finally ready to STOP and repent and to WANT to turn your life around. Therefore, there cannot be any changes overnight. (For instance, if you’ve been a heavy smoker and/or an alcoholic all your life, and you are broke, unemployed or ill because of those or some other addictions, chances are, you won’t suddenly become healthy and wealthy. It will take work on your part to get yourself back onto the road of recovery. Could YHWH suddenly “make you healthy” again? Certainly! But He usually allows us to reap the rewards of the seeds we’ve sown so that we will remember what got us there, in the first place ….

      While I don’t know the story of your life and all the suffering you’ve endured, I can tell you that while we mostly do bring “bad things” upon ourselves, there are also things that are NOT of our own doing, but they happened because of someone else’s choices in life, which just happened to impact us. You see, YHWH gives us all the choice to belong to Him – or not. Most do NOT belong to Him, and often THEIR choices will impact us – even to the point of completely ruining our life. For instance, in my case, I was a victim of years of childhood sexual abuse. My adoptive father was a pedophile, and I used to beg God to please stop him…but that never happened. Somehow, down deep, I knew God was allowing this guy to do what he did because ultimately. I didn’t realize WHY, until many years later, when I realized my suffering at the hands of my adoptive father served to help me find my way to YHWH and bring me into a really close relationship with HIM, a relationship I may never have had, had it not been for all my suffering! Read the story of Job and you’ll see what I mean. Also, please read this little story that should help you to feel better about who you are in Him as you continue to be refine in the fire: http://therefinersfire.org/refiners_fire.htm

      Thanks for writing! May YHWH continue to heal and grow and bless you!

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  5. Thank you Shali for your compassionate and encouraging reply.
    I endured similar experiences to yours in my childhood and then suffered immensely all throughout my teens and early adulthood with the consequences of it, plus some other horrendous and very unfortunate events, like an endless avalanche of torment throughout my early life. It destroyed my health, mentally and physically, and even up to today I am still dealing with the aftermath. That said, YHWH has been very graceful to me and I have experienced a lot of healing and especially emotional and spiritual growth since first learning of Him. And I do count my history all in all as a blessing too, or perhaps I should rather say that YHWH has turned what seemed like a hopeless disaster, into something very good. I wouldn't be the same person I am today without my experiences, and I am sure everything has a reason, far beyond my understanding at the moment.

    I can perfectly understand what you say about other people's choices having an impact on us and so not all of our suffering is a direct consequence of our own sins.

    And the story of Job showing us how it might not have anything to do with us or other people, but the enemy who has been given the permission to cause us pain, loss and suffering. I am not too sure whether this was a one off incident, or does YHWH still allow the enemy to do such things to us?

    Anyhow, I am often comforted by the book of Job, I have had countless of 'friends of Job' in my life, and knowing the book of Job, I now can disregard their useless 'wisdom' and 'help'. And most of all, Job reminds me to always be grateful and praise YHWH, even in the most intense pain and suffering. I don't always know the reasons behind things, but I trust that YHWH knows, is full of mercy, compassion and love, and He is worthy of all my praise and adoration no matter what my earthly circumstances are.

    I will have a look at the story you linked to, thank you!

    I really enjoy your website and this blog, it has been a huge blessing to me. May YHWH greatly bless you!

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    1. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us! I'm sure YHWH is using you as a "light" for others because you found your way to Him, IN SPITE of those who hurt you - those who were clearly being used by satan! I'm glad you realize that your past is a blessing, because it made you who you are today - a child of God!

      I can't really say whether or not YHWH still allows the enemy free access to His people, but I do believe there are times He allows us to come to some cross roads where we are forced to make some hard choices - so that WE can prove to ourselves that we are still His. Do you know what I'm saying?

      I mean, for instance, say you are a married man or woman and you meet someone else, and you start thinking of ways to sneak out of the house so you can pursue that relationship. The attraction is so strong that you come to the conclusion that "YHWH surely understands. He knows how unhappy I am in my marriage, and He won't mind."

      Well, the thing is, once we know Scripture, we KNOW that He hates divorce and that adultery used to be an offense that someone would get stoned for...That didn't change just because Y'shua died! Sin is still sin! So, we MUST at that point make a decision at that "cross road": Do I go against Torah and sin, just because I'm unhappy in my marriage and I really, really want to be with that other person? Or do I choose YHWH and HIS will, and ask Him to keep me from giving in to my flesh, and give me pointers on how I can do my part to help my marriage heal?

      He does give us the choice to do things HIS way, or not. There is no gray area. It sounds to me like you have figured this out - Halleluyah!

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