What you need today above everything else is peace

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Is there something troubling you today? Is it something to do with your health, or with the health of someone in your family? Perhaps it’s a problem in your job or business? Is it the relationship with your spouse? Or some problem your child is having? Or is it a general anxiety about the world situation today? Or is it that you need money for something urgent, and you just don’t have it and don’t know where you will get it from? Or could it be it is a secret sin you are struggling to overcome?

Listen, dear child of God. If you are going through one or more of the problems I mentioned earlier, I have an encouragement for you today that can bring you what you need above everything else right now. Many preachers give encouragement from their knowledge of God’s Word, but in many cases they do not speak from their personal experience. Which is quite ok. You can’t expect every preacher to experience directly what they preach about. The testimony of God’s Word is more than enough for them. But when a preacher occasionally gives you an encouragement from his direct experience of it, then I think there is an extra dimension of comfort and assurance in it.

I have gone through all the problems I mentioned in the beginning, plus some. And I have gone through them all in severe intensity, sometimes to such an extent that but for God’s timely intervention, death and destruction would have devastated my family. So please listen carefully, for I have an encouragement for you, if there’s something in your life today that is taking your peace away.

Perhaps you had been praying fervently for some time and nothing happened, and you feel it is useless continuing to pray as earnestly as you had been doing. Nothing may have happened in response to your prayer yet, but here’s how you will surely receive your answer — DON’T GIVE UP! Don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance. Never, never, never give up praying fervently for a miraculous deliverance! Because that’s exactly what the Enemy wants you to do. If you don’t give up praying for deliverance, then your answer is surely on the way. The delay in God’s answering you is purposeful. It is creating in you a steadfastness that only serious problems can produce in you. Continue asking fervently, perseveringly, and surely one of two kinds of deliverances will come to you.

This is the first kind of deliverance:  God will remove the problem that is troubling you by a miraculous intervention. Your healing will come, or your money will appear from an unexpected source, or something else will happen that will end the problem.

The second kind of deliverance is, the problem will not go away soon, and you will have to just endure it until it goes away by itself. Sometimes the problem may continue your whole life. If you had prayed fervently and the problem continues on and on, then that is EXACTLY what God wants you to go through. Just as he wanted Paul to experience the pain of a thorn in his flesh for his entire life, though Paul prayed for his deliverance from it repeatedly.  2 Cor 12:8-9  When permanent UNdeliverance is God’s answer to your prayer, then keep this truth in the forefront of your mind: He may allow your trouble to go on for a long time, or even for a lifetime, BUT ONLY AFTER HE HAS PROVIDED YOU THE MIRACULOUS STRENGTH FOR IT.

Remember this promise of your Savior whenever you begin to worry that you don’t have the strength to endure your trouble :

No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].   1 Cor 10:13 AMP

When I look back at nearly 50 years of various troubles I and my wife went through, I see that both kinds of deliverances have happened to us. I can’t say the exact proportion, but probably in the case of about half of our troubles, we were delivered out of them miraculously, and in the other half, we were delivered THROUGH them miraculously. Some of the troubles have continued to afflict us to this day even after nearly half a century since they began. But we have perfect peace in these troubles. We can easily endure them.

It is this peace that my wife and I are enjoying today that I want you too to be blessed with.  The way to that peace is simple, but it requires a firm decision on your part.  This is the way: First, don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance, and, second, don’t give up expecting God to deliver you miraculously in one of the two ways he always delivers his people from troubles.

Pour out your heart to him. Take ALL your troubles, bundle them into a sack and then, on your knees, throw them upon your Deliverer. That’s exactly the way the Bible tells you to do it. Listen to this verse.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.   1 Pe 5:7 AMP

The word ‘casting’ in Greek literally means ‘throw upon, place upon’. The trouble that you throw upon him then becomes his personal trouble.

That’s what George Muller, one of the greatest servants of God, did, when he was pressed down with the burden of caring for ten thousand orphans. When asked how he could be so calm in the middle of a hectic day with so many uncertainties at the orphanage, George Muller answered, ‘I rolled sixty things onto the Lord this morning’. Now that great burden was off his shoulders, and was on God’s shoulders.

Precious child of God, who is going through some trouble right now, don’t give up praying for a miraculous deliverance.  Every morning when you get up, and every night before you go to bed, roll all your anxieties one by one into a sack, and then, while on your knees, throw them all upon the Lord. Trust this encouragement from your Lord:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Phil 4:6 NLT

And this is what is going to happen to you if you do that:

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  Phil 4:7 NLT


Pappa Joseph


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The Final State of Maturity in A Christian’s Life

A Christian has reached the final state of his spiritual growth when he is able to keep Christ’s ‘command to persevere’.

Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’   Rev 3:10

Persevere’ in Greek is the same word translated elsewhere as in the Bible as ‘endurance, constancy, enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting)’.

The final state in perseverance or endurance is reached after a person goes through many years of troubles, as in the case of most Christians, or zenithed through a single instance of ultimate testing, as in the case of people such as Abraham and Job, and other ancient servants of God who were tested at some point in their lives by an extreme trouble, and in the case of Christians today who, in unswerving faith, go through severe persecution or personal tragedy – people who are especially selected by God and equipped to fulfill a great and special purpose in Christ’s ministry after they have been tested and proven in the fiery furnaces of affliction.

If this seems a frightening aspect of the true Christian life, then always keep it uppermost in your mind that no believer will ever go through an extreme suffering unless God equips him or her for it, according to his precious promise in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

No temptation has come your way that is too hard for flesh and blood to bear. But God can be trusted not to allow you to suffer any temptation beyond your powers of endurance. He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it.   JBP

Remember this sentence in the promise, especially the word ‘every’, whenever you think of any Christian’s adversity:

He will see to it that every temptation has a way out, so that it will never be impossible for you to bear it.

What greater assurance and comfort do we need to face any trial!

The Greek word for ‘temptation’ is ‘peirasmos’, which means ‘a putting to proof, discipline, by implication adversity’. So when God allows you to be tested, he is putting you to proof, to refine you, so you could come out of the furnace of adversity refined, mature, and steadfast.

This refining process is lifelong. Our entire life is comprised of small, medium and big trails, which are the crucibles of our growth in Christian maturity. The final point of absolute full maturity is reached only when a person finishes his life course and breathes his last.

But there is one particular point in the life of every child of God when he or she crosses the spiritual Jordan, whereby e proves to God that e is now a solid Christian, capable of patiently enduring any trial he or she is put through, capable of serving God in any capacity, a ‘strong-meat’ believer, no more needing the soft milk of a tender and immature child of God, as were some of Paul’s brethren.

And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto you were not able to bear it, neither yet now are you able.  1 Cor 3:1-2;

But strong meat belongs to them that are of full age.   Heb 5:14 KJV

Strong meat’ is the state when a Christian is able to accept and digest every spiritual solid food and every cup of strong drink God gives him for his growth.

Jesus asked James and John, ‘Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” They said to him, ‘We are able” ’.

And Jesus did not doubt their conviction. ‘You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with’, he responded.  Mat 20:22-23

When you are also able to drink the same cup of affliction that the disciples did, and be baptized with the same baptism that they went through – which means burying your selfcentered will in a watery grave and raising up to a new life to do only the will of God, whatever that involves – you reach the same state of spiritual maturity as ‘he who endures to the end’ Mt 24:13. This is the point of growth that Christ desires for every follower of his to reach as soon as possible.

For some, this point is reached imperceptibly, and the person one day wakes up to realize that he or she has already reached this mature state of perseverance after many years of seemingly endless troubles. For many others, this final proving point to God is reached during the severest trial of their lives. This is the point that Abraham reached when he lifted his knife to sacrifice Isaac. This is the point that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego reached when they were cast into the furnace by Nebuchadnezzar. This is the point that many faithful Christians reach when they are faced with the prospect of choosing life and betraying God, or choosing to risk death or great trouble so they can be faithful to God, and they unhesitatingly choose to be faithful to God.

And to those who are ready to choose to be faithful to God at any cost, let me give you this assurance based on my personal experience:

When I came to the excruciatingly painful point that I knew I would be physically devastated or even die if I did not get immediate medical help (in a place, deep in the dungeons of Arabia, where, no matter how critical a person’s physical state, if it was the weekend, no doctor would be available), and the devil wanted me to give up trusting God anymore to deliver me, I forced my right hand, weakened by my affliction, to slowly raise itself up, and pointed my forefinger and middle finger in a victory sign to the devil in the sight of all the heavenly hosts. It was the climax of several weeks of extreme affliction. But that was the turning point. From that moment onward, the devil left me and my pain decreased almost immediately and I was soon able to smile and move around normally, and within a few days I was walking out of my prison cell, to lead a far more active Christian life than ever.

Once you have convinced the devil you would rather die than betray your Savior, he will flee from you terrified, and thereafter, any attacks on you would be from a safe distance and could never be as intense as the one which enabled you to cross the Jordan of your life.

Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you.   Jm 4:7 AMP

And do not [for a moment] be frightened or intimidated in anything by your opponents and adversaries, for such [constancy and fearlessness] will be a clear sign (proof and seal) to them of [their impending] destruction, but [a sure token and evidence] of your deliverance and salvation, and that from God.   Phi 1:28 AMP

The final state_2

Israel’s troubles and challenges did not end soon after they crossed the Jordan, but they were nothing compared to what they had endured during the forty year trek through the Sinai desert. Even so, once you reach the maturity point where you have proved to God you will be faithful to him at any cost in your life, all troubles that come to you after that are just finishing touches to your refinement process and seem, by comparison, mild.

There will come times, sometimes lasting a long time, when all the promises of God would seem unavailable, when God himself seems far away from your trouble, and all your cries for help seem to go no higher than the ceiling of your bedroom. You would cry, like David did,

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are You so far from helping me, And from the words of my groaning?   Ps 22:1

And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, except to ‘be still’ decide to endure and trust God to deliver you in his own time. Ps 46:10

These are times in a growing Christian’s life that he will have to endure from hour to hour and from day to day. He becomes an hourly and daily survivor with whatever strength and little reliefs he receives in his misery.

God will not allow a Christian to go through such an intense phase until he or she is ready for it, irrespective of whether the Christian emself feels ready for it. Almost always, the Christian would feel he or she is simply not able to cope with it, but find, on looking back after some months and years of endurance that e has somehow managed to survive through the fire e had initially thought e could never go through.

This, faithful follower of Christ, is the most difficult and painful, and ultimately the most rewarding of all Christian experiences. Even the great God in all his omnipotence could not find another way of refining us more perfectly than through severe troubles that require our patient endurance.

It is only when you reach this God-given ability to endure patiently to the end every trouble that you will also have reached the final state of spiritual maturity where there is no more need for your severe testing. You will also have reached the state where you are eligible to be spared from the terrible tribulation coming upon the whole world in the endtimes. I repeat Christ’s personal assurance:

Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.   Rev 3:10

You need not be tested with extreme troubles with the rest of unrepentant humanity. A time of unthinkable tribulation is coming soon upon the whole world ‘such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.’ Mat 24:21

To escape the coming tribulation, you have to keep Christ’s command to persevere through your troubles. You have to endure without complaining whatever God allows you to go through today.

But remember always: however severe your present trouble seems to be, however unsolvable your present situation seems to be, God promises you this:

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears…This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.   Ps 34:4,6

Thank God we have his promise we will come out of every trouble smiling and praising him ever more!

It is only when you reach this God-given ability to endure patiently to the end every trouble that you will also have reached the final state of spiritual maturity where there is no more need for your severe testing.

One vital final point of this message.

The state of patient endurance is reached not by your determination to grit your teeth and patiently endure every trouble that comes your way. When you do that, the pain of your troubles only increases. Just as a patient’s pain is increased when he braces himself and tenses his biceps as the doctor inserts an injection needle into his arm. The least painful state is to lie relaxed and untensed and let the physician perform his job without any effort on your own part to help him reduce your pain. This least painful state is attained not by your struggles and efforts, but only by your belief that whatever is happening now is God’s specific will for you and therefore you willingly and unresistingly accept the work of your heavenly Surgeon in every area of your daily life so he can quickly excise every offending and toxic quality in your spiritual body.

The longer you resist, the longer you will have to go through the cleansing process. It is your belief in God’s personal care of you, your confidence that he will not allow you to suffer beyond the capability he has already given you, and your willingness to submit to whatever he does in you that are the calming factors in all your afflictions.

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God – who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty – and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.   Jm 1:2-5 JBP

Just run to Christ in sincere desire and persevering prayer for him to help you carry the heavy crosses of your life. When you do that daily, you will soon reach the point where you will have crossed the Jordan and find an amazing change in the way the troubles affect you now: they are so endurable now, so light to bear!

Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.   Mt 11:28-30

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]   Jn 16:33 AMP


Pappa Joseph



Reduce the Pain of the Troubles in Your Life


When we think of trouble and suffering in the Biblical context, the person most likely to come to our minds is Job. This is what Job said,

Man who is born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble.   Job 14:1

If you are born of a woman, it is guaranteed that your life will be full of troubles. I wonder why prosperity preachers miss this verse. This should be the first thought of the man or woman who is embarking on the Christian journey, or who, having journeyed long, is now in some deep trouble. Having troubles, which means, suffering pain, throughout your lifespan is to be expected as an inevitable consequence of having been born into this evil world.

So, dear follower of Christ, that is the bad news about your life and mine – there is absolutely nothing we can do to avoid pain in our life. There will be many small pains and many great pains, and one or two death pains, that is, pains as agonizing as dying a premature death. So much so, on his deathbed, the person who has lived the full Christian life will look back and say, ‘My life has been full of trouble’. That is what Jacob, one of the greatest of God’s chosen people, felt about his life when his days were almost over. He said, ‘few and evil have been the days of the years of my life’.   Gen 47:9

For the true Christian, in addition to the normal amount of troubles in the ordinary human lifespan, there will be several extra ones in es life – troubles directly inflicted on him or her by the enemy just because of the fact that e chose to follow Christ. You want to have a dozen or so fewer troubles in your life? Just stop carrying the cross of Christ and join one of the devil’s religions.

I am giving you the painful news first.

Now, understand something about the levels of troubles you as a child of God will surely encounter in your lifetime.

Trouble comes at two basic levels of pain.

Trouble at the second level of pain is totally beyond any human comfort or solution. The pain at this level cannot be reduced or soothed by any comforting source in this life. The Christian going through this level of pain should not even try to seek comfort from man, and no sensible person should attempt in any way to comfort the sufferer. No sermon, no grief handling program, no human counsel, no human act can do anything to alleviate the pain at this level. I call this level of pain ‘acute suffering’.

Job’s three friends did well for seven days and seven nights when they did not open their mouths to comfort their suffering friend. But from the minute they attempted to assuage his agony, Job’s misery only increased.  And the result of their sincere attempts?

‘What miserable comforters you are!’ moaned Job.   Job 16:2 NLT

The God’s Word to the Nation version says,

You are all pathetic at comforting me.

This message is not for those who are suffering or may suffer this second level of trouble. In the life of a child of God, such trouble comes only when God knows that he or she can go through it safely and come out of it closer to es Savior than ever before. And God takes it upon himself the full job of comforting his child in acute suffering, and all that he expects of his other children to do at this time is to quietly pray fervently for the one afflicted with this level of pain. You should not attempt to do anything beyond praying if you don’t want to end up as another miserable and pathetic comforter.

Acute suffering occurs when a spouse or a child dies prematurely. Or when a physical pain occurs with such intensity there is absolutely nothing the sufferer can do except moan and groan continuously. Or when a maiming accident or illness has just left a person blind, or paralyzed, or handicapped severely in some other way. Or when a person is imprisoned, or in imminent danger of es life. Or when a person is still reeling in extreme pain caused by some other kind of tragedy. In all these extremely agonizing life situations, I say again, God will take it upon himself the full job of comforting and giving strength to the one in pain so he or she can somehow endure the suffering. And remember, God in his great mercy has so constituted the human life that no person will ever go through any suffering that is beyond his or her physical and mental capability to endure it.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.   1 Cor 10:13

The word for ‘temptation’ in the original Greek also means ‘testing’ or ‘adversity’.

Now let me tell you about the first level of pain, which is the level of 99.99 percent of the pains encountered by a person as he or she follows Christ on the trouble-laden path to the Kingdom of God. As I mentioned earlier, most people have chosen to walk on the broad paths of life, and they have a faster-paced walk than those who have embarked on their life journey through the narrow gate.

You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.   Mt 7:13-14 NLT

At this first level of pain, the suffering person can do many things to reduce his pain. And people around him or her can also do several things to help the afflicted person suffer less pain. This is the level where the sufferer perhaps is settling down after going through the agony of a tragedy, or he or she is going through some personal crisis, but e has enough strength to go about es work and daily routines.

This then, O child of God who may be suffering right now even as you are reading this message, is what you should do as your first act of enduring your affliction.

First of all, never think of embracing the comfort of a coping mechanism. A coping mechanism is a human-contrived method to reduce your immediate suffering to a more endurable level. And it would reduce your pain – for an hour or two – and then plunge you to a depth where you suffer more pain than you had before you resorted to the coping mechanism.

Alcohol was my chief coping mechanism in the earlier years of my Christian life when I was afflicted with severe and continual trials. The pubs had a notice in them which announced the ‘happy hours’ when one could buy liquors at half the regular price. For me, any time I was in the bar was a happy hour. I did not drink excessively or got drunk. I drank just enough so I could get a ‘high’ – a nice warm feeling when all the troubles in the world seem to be at a hazy distance, and I really felt ‘happy’ in the cheery atmosphere of the present hour. This happiness, of course, was nothing but mild intoxication. And then, next day, at around the same time, my need for being comforted in whatever was afflicting me then seemed even more urgent than the previous day, and I would go to my favorite pub like a sheep led to its shearers. Oh, what far greater pains and additional troubles I brought upon myself because of my daily comfort in the embrace of a deceptive spirit! This coping mechanism nearly destroyed my family life, but Christ rescued me in time by his unfailing grace.

Alcohol is the coping mechanism that is probably the most resorted to by people wearied by long-drawn troubles – troubles that continue unabated for months and years. After an initial struggle to surmount them or endure them, the suffering person feels e couldn’t cope anymore and desperately looks for some soothing way out. And what camouflages pain so immediately as alcohol? Even the Bible recommends alcohol for the one – certainly not a Christian – who is about to suffer some miserable form of death. Proverbs 31:6-7  I suppose it is ok for such person to drink and forget es misery because es situation is so absolutely hopeless that nothing is going to save him or her anymore, whether e drinks or not. But for the rest of us, to drink alcohol to tide over our unhappy state, or to try to palliate our suffering by numbing our pain sensors is but sheer folly that surely would lead to an increased intensity of trouble.

‘And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.’

Coping mechanisms come in myriad forms and from a multitude of dark avenues originating from hell. I know a family, where the father and husband, a prosperous banker, lost his job, and unable to accept his new situation and unable to live with his family as a loser, left his four little children and wife, ran away to the arms of another woman, where for some time he found comfort and self-confidence in her embrace. Then, as his troubles increased, he ran away to another country, where he found new soft arms to comfort him. Now, twenty years after he left his family, I heard he managed to get a new job and hence wasn’t running to newer comfort zones…yet.

Running away, pornography, extramarital affairs, foods, smoking, drugs, gambling, overworking, partying – all these give a temporary escape, a short ability to cope with the life trouble, and then drag the person even deeper into the pit of misery. It is the surest way to turn a person’s prolonged suffering into lifelong tragedy.

A former colleague of mine suffers a failed marriage. She finds a measure of relief from her constant pain by smoking, overworking, and partying her head and hips off. Today, her life is in a far more pathetic state spiritually and physically than she was in when I first met her. There are strong indications that this woman – once a beautiful, talented and affectionate lady – is now possessed by several demons who have taken advantage of her dissipated state of mind to try to destroy her completely.

Afflicted child of God, as you go through your severe trial, be on your highest alert against being drawn to anything that would serve to allay your pain – anything you know in your heart your Savior wouldn’t recommend in your present situation. If you are not prayerfully alert, you initially wouldn’t even recognize something you do as a harmful coping mechanism. But God has provided innumerable safe ways you can effectively cope with any degree of pain that life’s various troubles lash you with. Instead of calling them coping mechanisms, I prefer to call them ’principles of endurance’.

It is God himself who will gently show you what principles of endurance you can apply in any particular trouble, which will enable you to endure the present suffering patiently until you come out of it. And come out of each trouble, you surely will sooner or later. That’s one of the great promises of God to his people going through all kinds of trials.

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from ALL their troubles.   Ps 34:17 NLT

For your reassurance, he repeats this promise just a couple of verses later.

The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue EACH time.   Ps 34:19 NLT

Each time…every time. Not just the big troubles, but even the little and the middle ones…ALL your troubles.

Yea, the same God who has promised to deliver you from all your troubles will also show you the best way to endure each trial. Just spend a little more time on your knees, and pray a little more fervently for urgent help to endure your pain. That, Christian, is the first and the most effective principle of endurance – increasing your prayer time on your knees. Even if you apply no other principle, this alone is more than sufficient to see you through your trial. This is how our Godly foreparents endured their troubles. They knew no other coping mechanism, but prayer and just more prayer. And how effectively they were able to endure as a result, and finally emerge from their chamber of affliction smiling each time!

Each person will be given his or her specific God-ordained endurance principle relative to es particular situation. But in general, I have found the following general principles helpful in my own life, and which I believe may be useful for you to keep in mind.

I took to alcohol to escape for an hour or two the trouble hounding me outside the pub. When God rescued me from this death pit, I realized I could find equally enjoyable, but totally safe, happy hours outside the pub, if I really looked around.

An activity that can keep your mind fully occupied in it for part of the day is a highly effective principle of patiently enduring a painful trial. During one severe time of trial, I taught parttime at a high school. The smiling and responsive students around me lifted my spirits for several hours each day throughout the duration of my affliction. Interaction with a group of people whom you like and who like you brings comfort during the days of your affliction.

But on some occasions of trouble, it can happen that interaction with people you like to be around when you are not facing a trial is a depressing experience when you are in an afflicted state. Once, I stopped attending a prayer fellowship which I had been attending when things weren’t that bad in my life. But in my severest pain, I just didn’t feel like being in the midst of people who were shouting hallelujahs for all the happiness they were enjoying in their lives. But I found my pain was pushed to the back of my cerebrum when I was with a group of my students or with my old schoolmates at an alumni meeting.

Another principle of endurance that may be of help to you: See if you can take up a new hobby or revive one that you had neglected for years. It helps to a significant extent.

I started to learn to play the guitar in my 58th year – during a time of severe trouble in my life. My past follies finally caught up with me, and a person very close to me who was involved with me in a former project, had to go to jail because of me. I would have any day gone to jail instead of that person, but I was inextricably trapped in another country. Worse, that person’s family who had been very close to me and looked up to me for decades, were calling me a blight to their lives. All I could do was fall on the floor and call out to my Comforter to rescue that person. After the initial acute suffering of a couple of days, God enabled me to accept the distressing situation, regather my composure and quietly go about my daily tasks, while keeping a tight rein on my pain inside me.

Moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, in the midst of one of the greatest afflictions of my life I was strengthened to go about my daily life by the grace of Christ in me. I even found sufficient calmness of mind to compose some instrumental melodies on my guitar. God intervened and the person didn’t have to complete the whole sentence and was out after a couple of weeks. (By the way, if you happen to come to one of my meetings, ask me to play some of the melodies I composed on my guitar during this trial. I think they are beautiful God-inspired music which may uplift your spirit when you are feeling weighed down by the cares of life.)

That is the key, earnest Christian. In all your severe afflictions, God will keep you moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day, till you are out of your trouble completely. He will even give you the grace to do some of your best life works in the midst of your afflictions.

The Lord comes to your rescue each time…every time. Not just in the big troubles, but in ALL your troubles.

As you learn how to endure your troubles, always keep foremost in your mind that all the endurance principles – the props to hold you up while suffering – will go only a short distance unless God himself propped up your props. And the only way you can receive God’s prop to hold you up daily is for you to simply ask him, fervently, daily.

Pour out your heart to God without demanding an immediate end to the suffering. God has never answered my prayer for an immediate deliverance. But he has always answered my prayer for more strength to endure it.

When deliverance does not come within the deadline you set in your mind for your release, remember that setting deadlines for the trouble that God has allowed in your life is not your business. I emphasize again, don’t plead with him desperately to end your suffering. It is useless. That’s not going to happen. Plead for more strength to endure instead.

My friend, George, suffered for 15 years in prison for a crime he never committed, in a land where an expatriate man can go to jail for the silliest and flimsiest reason, such as breaking wind in front of a female citizen. I did time in prison in the same cell with him, because I couldn’t repay a bank loan within the allotted period. Since I knew my term was only a month, I could look forward to my release. But not he; he could never know how long they would keep him. He established a routine. Reading newspaper, comforting fellow prisoners, then eventually finding work in the prison library. Even with all these props, no man can keep up his spirits for 15 years without God’s direct power strengthening him moment by moment, day after day, year after year. At least one of our fellow cellmate’s mind had gone cuckoo after spending several years behind bars. But George was the most cheerful person to be around in the prison, and yet among the most suffering. He continued praying, and his people kept praying for him…until the day arrived that God decided to open the prison doors for him, and he was reunited with his family that he hadn’t once seen for 15 years.

While you shouldn’t demand or expect an immediate deliverance, you should perseveringly ask God to cut short the length of your afflicted days. There are several examples in the Bible where God intervened and shortened the period of suffering of his servants.

In your time of suffering, it is ok if you don’t feel like talking to anyone, or going anywhere…even to church. Don’t force yourself to act normal. You are not. Cry when you feel you want to cry. Sometimes when the pain seems too much to bear, you will have to grit your teeth and just endure and not try to find something or someone to ease your pain. Such extreme moments will be rare, by God’s mercy, but if they come, just clench your fists and endure, while crying out to God for urgent help. I pass on to you this great assurance I gained from the severe sufferings that afflicted me on and off for 40 continual years: you can endure, and if you keep calling out to God for his strength and keep trusting him to deliver you at the right time, he will give you the strength to endure and he will surely deliver you at the time that only he knows is best for you.

Some Christians may advise fasting when one is suffering. It may be a good idea for some people, who, I suspect, may have a trace of masochism in them. But it is certainly a most unpleasant thing for me to do when I am groaning in pain. Fasting is meant to ‘afflict’ our souls, so we can realize how weak we are as human beings and how dependent we are on God for protection and blessings in this life. A trial is already an affliction, and there is no logic under heaven to afflict your soul further, unless it is an attempt to cajole God into acting sooner than he otherwise would.

Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?   Is 58:3

The Bible does not tell us to fast when we are already afflicted by a trial from God, unless of course the trail is a result of our sin, in which case we certainly need to fast to regain our closeness with God. If sin is not involved, James tells us to pray when we are suffering, not afflict ourselves more by fasting.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.   Jm 5:13

Fasting is generally for times when we are prosperous and getting distracted by worldly cares, or when we are so engaged in our work that our prayer life is getting affected and we need to get away from it all to regain our closeness with God. In such cases, the person needs to go to a secluded retreat, like Jesus did, or to a quiet corner of his house, and fast until he is back in the close embrace of his Father.

Fasting is also recommended when we need to make a major life decision, to humble ourselves, and to know God’s direction and will in a particular situation.

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions.   Ezr 8:21

Let me add one more counsel before I close this message. In your trouble, if you don’t feel like applying any endurance principle to reduce your pain, that’s perfectly ok and normal. Just praying and quietly going about your daily routine – even while suffering the pain – is all that is finally expected of you by God. But for many others, including me, these endurance principles have proven of much help in enduring our trials.

I pass on to you God’s greatest assurance to all sufferers: you will come out smiling in the end. You will emerge cheerful and grateful to God for how he helped you during the period of suffering. You will be able to walk steadier and stronger than before the trouble, and your peace and joy will be fuller than ever before. The suffering may have cost you many precious things in life, and broken some of your fondest dreams, but God’s awesome workings in your life will ensure you are able to let go of all those precious things and rejoice in the greater possessions and the grander dreams he has now given you in recompense.

And the thought to keep uppermost in your mind while suffering: Our Father in heaven – who says that even if your own mother forgets you, he will not forget you – is in control and knows exactly to what extent you, his beloved son or daughter, can endure. And he will ensure you have the strength to endure until he delivers you. And deliver you, he will surely, and not one second beyond what he has set for your good.

Let me quote again a verse I had referred to earlier. The paraphrased words in parenthesis and brackets are from the Amplified Bible itself:

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.   1 Cor 10:13 AMP

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]   Jn 16:33 AMP


Pappa Joseph