The Bible Speaks
“many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” Psalm 34:19
I was scanning the shelves in the religious section of Barnes and Noble a few years back and ran across a book titled Your Best Life Now. It was written by a popular TV preacher in Texas. I skimmed the book and noticed that this man believed that Christians can experience their best days here and now. I was reminded of today’s text from Psalm 34 and thought of what the persecuted believers in China and India and North Africa would think of this man’s teaching. For that matter, what would the Apostle Paul think of it? (Just check out the hardships he faced for being a faithful servant of Christ – 2 Corinthians 11:23-29). If you are a Christian your best life awaits you; your reward is in heaven and your rest will be found there and not here below.
There is an interesting paradox in Christianity that many never seem to fully realize. Complete obedience to Christ and total dedication to the Lord will bring upon you more hardship than many Christians who are nominal or apathetic in their faith. Psalm 34:19 says MANY are the afflictions of the righteous, not FEW! When you choose to serve the Lord, you put yourself in opposition to the Prince of this world and all the evil he concocts. In case you haven’t noticed, the ways of this world are far from the ways of God and anyone who walks with God will, by definition, run up hard against this world. Jesus promised His followers that “in the world you will have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The prosperity gospel (believe and receive riches and success) and the faith gospel (your attitude determines your successes and your words can direct your destiny) are not the gospel of Jesus Christ. His rewards for faithfulness on earth are stored up in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). He also gives inner peace and joy unspeakable that comes from a godly life lived for His pleasure. Though some Christians find financial success and societal honor, there is no promise of such in the Bible. The rewards that Jesus promised were to “the persecuted for the sake of the gospel.” (Matt. 5:11-12) Those who suffer for His kingdom now will be rewarded later in heaven. Such is the lot of the committed believer; as his Master suffered, so shall he.
The Bible speaks of God’s deliverance and heavenly reward for those who suffer affliction for the cause of Christ. His reward is far, far greater than anything that could be found on earth. Which one are you working for? A life of ease and rest on earth will be pleasant for a moment, but sorely lacking in the eternal rewards of heaven. As for me, I think I’d like to suffer a little and rest and rejoice a lot.
The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor of Turner’s Chapel.