The Joys of Heaven Will Far Outweigh the Sufferings of Earth

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Suffering has a way of messing with our hope. In the midst of experiencing pain, loss, or hardship, we as Christians can easily lose our focus on what matters most and on our certain future. I was reminded of this reality recently and encouraged as I read the following story from David Jeremiah’s book What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith (see my review):pilot_flying_airplane

Suppose you won a free trip around the world for you and a loved one. It included first-class accommodations at five-star hotels, private planes, lavish gifts, and personal tours. (See how powerful the imagination is?) But suppose as you opened the envelope containing the tickets, you suffered a paper cut on the end of your finger. You might say to your companion, “Oh, I cut my finger!” You’d grimace for about half a second before grinning from ear to ear and saying, “Who cares? We’re about to take the trip of a lifetime!” I would say nothing to trivialize disease [or other intense suffering]; I know the misery of it firsthand. But according to Paul, and from the perspective of our eternal God, the sufferings of this present world are less than a paper cut in relation to the glory yet to be revealed to us (p. 56).person-flying

The Apostle Paul’s perspective that David Jeremiah mentions comes from Romans 8:18:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Paul was no stranger to suffering. Later in Romans 8, Paul gives a long list of potential sufferings that some might think separate us from God: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, sword, death, angels, rulers, powers, etc. The truth is that for the Christian, none of those things mentioned or “anything else in all creation” can separate him or her from the Lord! Paul himself faced many of these sufferings:

24 Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; 26 on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; 27 in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? (2 Corinthians 11:24-29)

So when Paul said that the “sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us,” this glory must be great to outweigh all of the intense sufferings that he faced. Indeed, this glory did outweigh Paul’s sufferings and it does outweigh ours!

Meditate on Heaven and the joy to be found there deeply, so that you can be of great earthly good and endure whatever may come in this life!

Let the example of Paul and the truth that even your hardest sufferings cannot separate you from God be an encouragement when you face suffering of any kind, whether small or great. If you know Christ, you have hope beyond measure and a certain joyous future in Heaven with Him!

Book Review: What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith by David Jeremiah

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What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears With Faith
by David Jeremiah
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My Rating: 4 Stars

Overcoming Fears with Faith in the Goodness and Power of God

I have to admit it—often when I read a nonfiction book I am hoping for fresh insights and fresh perspectives. I want to learn something new, or at least hear something in a new way that strikes me. As I began reading David Jeremiah’s What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith, this was my desire. While I found fresh material throughout—especially three of his chapters—the rest sounded like what I’ve heard before. Don’t get me wrong. There was little I disagreed with. It’s just that most of the book wasn’t exceptional. It was standard fare—things I have heard numerous times from numerous speakers. This isn’t all bad, for there is a place for reminders (cf. 2 Peter 1:12). I just prefer my reminders stated in fresh ways, I guess.

For a sampling of which fears Jeremiah addresses, go ahead and peruse the table of contents:

  1. Disaster: The Fear of Natural Calamity
  2. Disease: The Fear of Serious Illness
  3. Debt: The Fear of Financial Collapse
  4. Defeat: The Fear of Failure
  5. Disconnection: The Fear of Being Alone
  6. Disapproval: The Fear of Rejection
  7. Danger: The Fear of Sudden Trouble
  8. Depression: The Fear of Mental Breakdown
  9. Death: The Fear of Dying
  10. Deity: The Fear of God

As can be seen, Jeremiah addresses a wide range of fears. I think it’s fairly safe to say that all of us have feared at least something on this list, so for that reason alone, this book would be worth looking at. Honestly, while much of the book is ordinary as I mentioned above, the one chapter worth reading is the very first. In fact, it alone is worth the price of the book in my opinion. It is a great summary of the fear of natural calamities stated in ways that are fresh and engaging. Here’s an example:

Those who define God solely by the evil He allows overlook the flip side of their complaint. Yes, there is evil in the world, but there is also an enormous amount of good. If God is not good, as they claim, how do they account for all the good we experience? Is it fair to judge Him for the evil and not credit Him with the good? […] In a world that contains tragedies, we must realize that they’re vastly outnumbered by blessings (16).

Here’s another familiar reminder that’s worth hearing again:

The one way to walk boldly and confidently into an unknown future is to stake everything on the power and goodness and faithfulness of God (xiii-xiv).

Maybe I’m being too hard and unfair on Jeremiah in calling most of his book “familiar” and “standard fare.” I just don’t find his writing all that more engaging than most. Therefore, I give this book 4 stars because of solid content, yet not 5 because of its average delivery.

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