Continued from Part 26
n the past 16 series, we have been looking at some selected Bible characters who have suffered afflictions as a result of their faith and their resolve to tread the path of righteousness.
Last week, we looked at the affliction of the Leader of the faith Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh. I then commented that no one who is a faithful follower of Christ will therefore be able to escape affliction as a result of his faith.
We cannot exhaust the afflictions, trials, temptations or ordeals, which the saints before us have passed through.
But even with the few witnesses that are cited here, I wonder what kind of difficulties any Christian can be undergoing today, which can be said not to have been experienced by anyone before. It may not be exactly the same but it will be similar in nature.
Part of what has been done in this episode titled 'cloud of witnesses' is simply to justify and confirm what Paul wrote in ICor. 10:13, and Peter in 1Peter 5:8-9 and 1Peter 4:12 as quoted at the beginning of this series, that whatever affliction, trial or temptation anyone may be going through today "aren't anything new and different. Many others have faced the same problems before".
Paul went ahead in the same verse to say: "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able (i.e. no temptation is irresistible); but with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it".
I have coined that last phrase "with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" in my own words as 'Cushion effect'. This will be explained in the future but suffice it to testify here that, in every trial I have experienced, God has always been supportive by allowing certain circumstances or permitting, occurrences of certain events that will give me the necessary encouragements to go through.
These encouragements are what I refer to as 'cushion effects'. All Christians I have met and read about testified likewise.
The writer of Hebrews in chapter 4:15 wrote "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin"
The writer went ahead in chapter 12:3-4 with a big challenge and encouragement to whoever might think that his ordeal is too severe.
He wrote "If you want to keep from becoming faint hearted and weary, think about His (Jesus) patience as sinful men did such terrible things to Him. After all, you have never yet struggled against sin and temptation to the extent that you sweat great drops of blood"
The writer was referring to the experience of the Master in the garden of Gethsemane on the night of his arrest, which led to His execution, when He was in deep agony of Spirit as He prayed, such that He broke into a sweat of blood, with great drops falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).
The writer of Hebrew is encouraging whoever is going through any ordeal to resist becoming faint hearted and weary as a result of his ordeal but to reflect on the patience of the Master during His ordeal in the garden of Gethsemane and learn from Him. Not only this, no one's temptation or ordeal can be as severe as the Master's who as He prayed against His temptation broke into a sweat of blood. Or has any other person in history faced such an ordeal to the extent that he had to sweat blood?
The Master's affliction was so harsh as He carried on His body, the sins of the whole world, dead, alive and yet to be born.
All these that have been written are in no way to play down whatever ordeal or affliction anyone may be going through but if such a fellow is aware of these facts he should get some relief and be encouraged to pray through with the realization that since "Jesus Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted" (Heb 2:18).
This concludes the chapter of the series titled "Cloud of Witnesses" where references are made to saints who have come before us and have suffered one affliction or the other as a result of their faith. I hope you have been encouraged.
Next in the consideration of the topic "Why the Righteous Suffer" is "The Dignity and Glory in Affliction"