Hmm... well when you write about the cost of following Jesus, you get to practice what you preach. A few days I go, I lost my job. It was a good job, good pay, good benefits, and some days so much fun, I wouldn't have cared if they paid me at all. Because it was a good job, I have a little bit of money to get me through for a few weeks... just enough so I might try to figure this all out by myself. Honestly, I am in crises mode. You know, a time when every waking moment is focused on ending the crises.
I once heard a sermon where the pastor said that the word "crisis" in Chinese (no, I don't know if it is Mandarin, Cantonese, Simple or Traditional) but that it translated into "dangerous opportunity." Wow, that sounds like me today. We are in danger of our whole financial world coming down on top of us. And you know, that is what happened three years ago too. You see, both my wife and I are unemployed-- well in about 3 weeks she will be, and I am already. Her job is little bit seasonal, and slowest in the summer. So, every few years, it just gets really slow. Me, I just keep ending up in a places that eventually run out of financial gas, or burn to the ground, or whatever. That's dangerous. The opportunity, well I look to the Lord for that. If he is opening a door, then I want to go through it.
I have heard loads of sermons on how to get through a crappy week. But you know there are a couple of verses that don't get read too often in the church... well, none that I have been in.
Romans 5:2b And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Now really, what Christian with real hope, has not suffered? The life of the Christian brings peace, but the only time the word "easy" is used in the Bible, is to describe the yoke of Jesus. That's it!
Trial forms our character, and allows us to empathize with others. That is why crises is an opportunity, it is chance for us to rely on God, and look for His grace in all things.
What about severe loss and suffering?
2 Corinthians 8:2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
God can use that too. James had his eye on the reward of eternal life with His Lord and Savior. Peter said, don't be shocked at trial, it is normal for Christians.
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
1 Peter 4:12
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.
And in the end, there is nothing that God can't use for His glory...
Romans 8:28-40 (New International Version)
More Than Conquerors
28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.