One major factor of life, and especially Christian life, is suffering. Often times, and sometimes daily, we are being disciplined, persecuted through tribulations, tempted by our natural evil desires, and tested through trials. Life is definitely not easy. Sure, we may go through times of peace, but just like a roller-coaster, every high point has its low point. As Christ walked this earth, He warned us of these sufferings. Paul constantly wrote about these difficulties that we will face. There is no escaping it.
Matthew 8:18-22 reads, “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.””
This passage of Scripture shows the difficulty of following Jesus. It shows someone declaring that he will follow Jesus to all places. Jesus responds to him, saying that even the creatures of the earth such as birds and foxes have a place to stay, but Jesus has no place. Another asked if he could first go bury his father. Notice the word ‘disciple’. Someone who was following and learning from Jesus Christ, and Jesus tells him to follow Him and to let the unbelievers bury their own dead. Could you imagine being in the situation of the disciple? That is definitely a test of the faith and not an easy one either.
Another passage is Matthew 16:24-28 which reads, “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
Jesus is saying this for all Christians. We must deny ourselves and take up our crosses to follow Him. For those who save their lives for themselves will lose them. Sure, you can have the time of your life, be one of the richest people in the world, and fulfill all of your evil desires, but if you don’t give your life to Jesus, then you will lose everything when you die. However, when we surrender our lives to Christ, we will gain the inheritance of eternal life in heaven. There will come a day when Jesus returns, and I should hope that by that day, you will have given your life to Christ or you will face the consequences of your sins.
One of the most difficult times in my life was when I attended basic training. I shipped out January 9th of last year, only a week after my birthday. By the morning of January 20th, I was undergoing shark-attack (my first real basic training experience). For fourteen weeks after that day, I was training in a difficult environment. It was not an easy task, but I got through it. Through this series called Boot Camp, I will look at various difficulties of the Christian life while using my experiences in my past military training. These topics will be: Discipline, Tribulations and Persecution, Temptations, Tests and Trials, and Enduring and Overcoming.
I hope that this series will reach those who are undergoing difficult times. It is my hope that those who are disciples of Jesus Christ will rejoice in their sufferings and that they continue to glorify God in all that they do, regardless of their situation. May we all continue to trust in God and His plan.
Soli Deo Gloria.