I have blogged often about suffering. I’ve reflected on why we suffer, the purposes of suffering, and how to best endure suffering. But recently I heard a preacher talk about suffering in a way I had never before contemplated. Particularly how Christian’s suffering glorifies God to angels and demons! Yes… you read that right! Let me explain…
The preacher pointed out that Paul was writing a pastoral letter of encouragement to be read to churches beginning in Ephesus. One point he made was that what happens in church… what believers do… is observed by many we are not consciously aware of. He explained there are reasons beyond what we perceive for all that Christians endure. This includes when a Christian suffers and it seems there is no obvious reason for what they endure. Then he pointed to Ephesians 3:8-11…
To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Consider that when Christians do what is right and glorify God in the midst of hardship and difficulty… and no one on this earth sees it… when the believer endures trials in absolute solitude… there IS AN AUDIENCE! THERE ARE WATCHERS who observe Christ followers. Rulers and authorities refers to angels AND demons. Angels and demons observe everything Christians do… on earth… for (and not for) God’s glory! When God is glorified by a Christian’s conduct, angels and demons must be in awe and wonder!
This is as much what happened back in the book of Job! The struggle of an earth-bound righteous man took place in front of a cloud of spirit beings… God, Satan, and of course all the angels and demons. They all observed that Job… without EVER understanding the purpose of his suffering… glorified God none the less! And thus God was proved worthy of worship before all who saw it happen in real-time! This idea brings a whole new understanding to Hebrews 12:1-3 where it is written…
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
WHAT IF we knew we would be followed by a film crew, recording every action and thought for one week… which would then be shown to the world (“The Truman Show” style)… would we take better care to reflect God’s glory? Of course we would. Thing is… that is EXACTLY what is happening even though we aren’t always aware of it!
Just a thought… something for reflection… something to consider next time you don’t think anyone knows what you’re going through. It IS possible to glorify God even though no on one this earth is aware of what is happening to you! 1 Cor 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do ALL to the glory of God.”
That really drives home the point that everything works for God’s glory.
It is awesome to know that EVERYTHING we think and do is being observed and has eternal consequences. I Cor. 10:31 is a daily challenge. Thank you for this blog!!