Trusting God in the Dark
By Robert G. Spinney (2006)
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"Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in
darkness and has no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God." (Isaiah 50:10)

Among Martin Lutherís many accomplishments, he was a capable exegete. He was a first-class theologian, delivered many expository sermons, and frequently dealt with exegeting (or interpreting) texts.

Luther once wrote that if you want to interpret the Bible accuratelyówant to do a good job of interpreting the Bibleóthere are three rules to good exegesis. The first two items wonít surprise you; the third one might. Lutherís three rules for interpreting the Bible accurately: pray, meditate, and suffer.

Surely Luther did not believe that suffering was something unusual. Nor did he think that adversity was merely a weapon that Satan uses to drag Christians down. Lutherís position here was thoroughly biblical: God uses affliction to mature and prosper Christians.

Today we will consider this issue of suffering.

I find that it is very difficult to think Christianly about suffering. At least that is my confession. The Christian understanding of suffering is so contrary to our natural fleshly response to suffering that we need to work at this. At least I do: I need to work at rethinking (or retraining my mind) so that I think in a godly way about the issue of affliction. And if any subject deserves reinforcement, it is this idea of responding biblically to affliction.

There is one other reason why we should think about this issue of suffering even in times when we arenít suffering. The time to learn how to think biblically about trials, bereavement, and persecution is not when it hits you. You donít teach soldiers how to load and fire their weapons when they are in the middle of a battle and they are pinned down by the enemy. You teach soldiers how to fight before they go into battle. You prepare them in peacetime so they can respond in wartime. If you want to respond in a godly way to difficult times, then you need to prepare your thinking during good times. The day will come when hardship and affliction will assault your soul; if you wish to fare well in that battle, you must prepare ahead of time. Be prepared for tough times.

I. Following the Lord Jesus Christ Means That You Will Share (In a Small Way) the Lord Jesus Christís Experience (Isaiah 50:10)

We will address this issue of suffering by looking at Isaiah 50:10. We are going to see in this passage that following the Lord Jesus Christ means that the disciple will shareóin at least a small wayóin the Lord Jesus Christís experience.

Isaiah 50:10: "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God."

That is an odd verse, isnít it? Note three things here. This verse identifies the man who [a] fears the Lord [b] obeys the voice of His servant and [c] walks in darkness and has no light as the same person. Do you see that? This raises an obvious question: How can a person who reverences God and obeys Godís word still walk in darkness and have no light? Isnít this a little odd?

This verse makes sense when you look at the verseís broader context. Back up and look at the previous five verses; the context helps explain what verse 10 means. In Isaiah 50, starting in verse four and going to verse nine, we see what is often called the third Servant Song. The book of Isaiah contains four prophecies that foretell the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. In some ways, these are the most illuminating pictures of Messiah that we see anywhere in the Old Testament. These four prophecies are called the four Servant Songs. And here in Isaiah 50:4-9, we find the Third Servant Song.

Iíll show you why we describe these prophecies with the phrase Servant Song.

The first Servant Song appears back in Isaiah 42. In Isaiah 42:1 we read, "Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold, My Chosen One in whom My soul delights . . . " Here is just one verse from that prophecy. You can see the word servant here: the coming Messiah is referred to as "My Servant." That is the first Servant Song.

The Second Servant Song is in Isaiah 49. In Isaiah 49:5 we read, "Now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him . . . " Here is another prophecy about the coming Messiah. And again you see the reference to Messiah as Godís Servant:

The Third Servant Song is in Isaiah 50. In Isaiah 50:10 we read, "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of His Servant?" This is the verse we are going to consider today.

The Fourth Servant Song begins at Isaiah 52 and continues through Isaiah 53. "Behold, My Servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up . . . the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities." (Isaiah 52:13, 53:11) This Servant Song is the most famous one; it is the one with which most Christians are familiar. It refers to Messiah as the servant twice.

Now, letís look more closely at Isaiah 50:4-9, which comprises the third Servant Song. This will help us to understand Isaiah 50:10 and this subject of responding to affliction and hardship.

Isaiah 50:4-9 is a prophecy that emphasizes the coming Messiahís obedience. This Servant Song emphasizes Messiahís obedience even in the face of hardship. Letís look at verses four and five, and letís look at this picture of Messiah:

Isaiah 50:4-5 "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient nor did I turn back."

This is Messiah saying that the Lord God has given Him the tongue of disciples so that He may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. God awakens His Servant morning by morning. God awakens the Servantís ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord God has opened His Servantís ear, and He was not disobedient. Nor did Messiah turn back.

Consider this idea. Messiah has an instructed tongue or a trained tongue. Messiah has a tongue that has been made obedient to God the Father. Messiah also has an instructed or a trained ear. He has an ear that has been made obedient to God the Father. Messiah hears Godís words and speaks Godís words. In perfect obedience, He is the great prophet who does not turn back. Messiah does not turn away from telling us exactly what God wants us to hear.

Look at verse six. The prophecy continues:

Isaiah 50:6 "I gave my back to those who strike Me, and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting."

Messiah is obedient, even when it is difficult and painful. Messiah is obedient, even when obedience results in suffering and hardshipó even when it means offering His back to those who strike him, offering His cheeks to those who are going to pull out His beard, and offering His face to those who spit at Him.

Verse seven:

Isaiah 50:7 "For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed."

That is our Messiah: determined to persevere and faithful in the path of obedience. Messiahís determination to obey is set in stone. Itís like a hard rock and like flint. Messiahís commitment to obey is set in stone and cannot be altered.

Then verses eight and nine:

Isaiah 50:8-9 "He who vindicates me is near; who will contend with Me? Let us stand up to each other; who has a case against Me? Let him draw near to Me. Behold, the Lord God helps Me; who is he who condemns Me? Behold, they will all wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them."

Only Messiah can say, "Despite all My afflictions, I have always obeyed. I did all that the Father instructed me to do. Despite the darkness, I remained faithful. I never wavered. So who can make a case against Me?"

Thus in this third Servant Song, we see a picture of Messiah as Godís determined and persevering Servant. Even when confronted with affliction, the Lord Jesus Christ remains faithful.

Then in verse 10 of chapter 50, the focus shifts. In verse ten we find an exhortation directed at listeners. It is directed at people like me and you, people who love Godís Servant and people who are determined to follow Godís servant.

Isaiah 50:10 "Who is among you that fears the Lord, that obeys the voice of his servant, that walks in darkness and has no light, let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God."

Sometimes in the Bible, those words darkness and light that you see in verse ten refer to sin and righteousness. But sometimes, as is the case here, darkness and light are metaphors for difficulty and ease. In this context, darkness is really a figurative word that is referring to hardship, to adversity, to pain, to lack of understanding, to bewilderment, to no sensible fellowship with the living God.

And light is also a figurative word. It refers to comfort, to prosperity, to things are going well. It means that we understand what is going on, and we comprehend our situation. It also means that we enjoy sensible fellowship with the living God.

Here in this prophetic third Servant Song, we see that Godís Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ, obeyed in times of darkness. Indeed, while hanging on the cross, Messiah cried out with what was perhaps the most mysterious and solemn words that have ever been uttered on planet earth: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

But still the Lord Jesus Christ obeyed. He persevered in dark times. And the message here in verse ten is clear: just as Messiah obeyed in times of darkness, so Messiahís followers are called to obey in times of darkness. You could put it like this: Christians who are going to live in the "Servant way" will have a "Servant experience." If you live like the Lord Jesus Christ, you will experience in some measure what the Lord Jesus Christ experienced. Darkness did not prevent Messiah from being faithful; darkness should not prevent Godís people from being faithful.

This is the traditional and historic understanding of this passage. You can go back in church history and find many great saints who saw Isaiah 50:10 as this clarion call to Godís people: when darkness comesónot ifówhen darkness comes, you persevere like the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is one example. This is from the old Baptist theologian John Gill in his comments on Isaiah 50:10:

"The man that fears the Lord, and obeys His Servantís voice, such an one may be in darkness, and walk in it . . . not only in affliction and misery, expressed by Ďdarknessí in Scripture, but in desertion, under the hidings of Godís face, and which may continue for a while, without the light of Godís countenance shining upon him, without the light of spiritual joy and comfort shining in his heart."

In other words, darkness is not always an indication that someone has missed the will of God. Sometimes, as was the case for Messiah, darkness is part of the life of obedience.

Charles Spurgeon delivered several sermons on Isaiah 50:10. This is just one except from one of his Isaiah 50:10 messages, messages where he talked at length about this issue of Christians persevering in difficult times.

"In the darkness of sin and ignorance we no longer walk; but with the darkness of trouble and perplexity we are sometimes surrounded. The Lord is our light and our salvation, and therefore we do not walk in that darkness wherein the prince of darkness rules supreme; but yet at times we are in the gloom of sadness, and we see no light of consolation. . . . Be not, therefore, surprised as though some strange thing had happened to you, if you find yourself in darkness; for this text warns you of what you may expect. . . The darkness which is spoken of in the text includes providential trial of many sorts . . . bereavement . . . poverty . . . slander and reproach . . . sickness . . . desertion by friends . . . The worst cloud of all, I think, is deep depression of spirit accompanied with the loss of the light of Godís countenance. . . . Surely, at some time or other, all the children of God walk in darkness. . . . Personally, I have often passed through this dark valley."

So the word of God to us this: When you fear God, and when you obey Him, and when it is dark, what should you do? Keep on fearing Him and keep on obeying Him! The words here in Isaiah 50:10 are literally trust and rely. Trust that God is fully sovereignóGod is fully wise and is causing this affliction to work for your goodóand rely upon the grace of God, the divine grace that supplies you with all you need to glorify God . . . even when it is dark.

II. The Bibleís Message Regarding Hardship and Adversity

Let me back up (or zoom out) and look at this broad issue of hardship. The Bible speaks frequently regarding the hardship and adversity of Godís people. In Isaiah 50:10, we are seeing an idea that is communicated throughout the Scriptures. This is not a small doctrine that is only suggested in Isaiah 50:10, right? Isaiah 50:10 refers to a concept that is taught throughout the Bible.

A. Godís people will experience hardship in this life. Christians are not immune to affliction. Suffering is not accidental; God ordains it. Healthy believers will encounter seasons of adversity and pain. At times, healthy Christians will not enjoy the sensible presence of God and will not fully understand Godís providences.

I am speaking here of a broad subject that you are going to hear me refer to as adversity, difficulty, or pain. Those are brief words for a broad category that includes persecution, illness, financial difficulties, grief, bereavement, and the heartache of living with unsaved family members and rebellious children (or from the childís perspective, living with unsaved parents). It would include psychological or emotional distress. So I am lumping all that together as adversity and difficulty.

The Bible repeatedly tells us that Godís people will face hardship.

Acts 14:22 "Paul and Barnabas said, ĎThrough many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.í"

1 Thessalonians 3:2-4 " . . . we sent Timothy . . . to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know."

2 Timothy 3:12 "all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."

Philippians 1:29 "For to you it has been granted for Christís sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake."

See also 2 Corinthians 1:5, 2 Timothy 2:3, 1 Peter 1:6, 1 Peter 2:19-21, 2 Corinthians 12:10, Romans 8:17, and John 15:20.

Charles Spurgeon (in a sermon on Isaiah 50:10) noted that God calls some Christians to shoulder extraordinary hardships in this life: "Spiritual darkness of any sort is to be avoided, and not desired; and yet, surprising as it may seem to be, it is a fact that some of the best of Godís people frequently walk in darkness; ay, some of them are wrapt in a sevenfold gloom at times, and to them neither sun, nor moon, nor stars appear. As the pastor of a large church, I have to observe a great variety of experiences, and I note that some whom I greatly love and esteem, who are, in my judgment among the very choicest of Godís people, nevertheless, travel most of the way to Heaven by night."

Consider a second thing that the Bible teaches us:

B. God uses hardship to mature His people. Adversity is Godís sandpaper for changing His people. Pain is Godís exercise program for strengthening our faith. Trials have a purpose: they promote sanctification.

Here are three verses from Psalm 119 that express this truth.

Psalm 119:67, 71, 75 "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes. I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me."

Who afflicted the psalmist? God did. Does the psalmist not say, "God, thank you for being faithful and maturing me by bringing affliction"? That is what the psalmist says: "In faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me."

Romans 5:3-4 "We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope."

"We also exult in our tribulations"? Whoa! Time out!

What does this word exult mean? It means rejoice greatly or to amplify my rejoicing. So the verse means that we Christian rejoice greatly in our tribulations.

Why would a Christian rejoice greatly in tribulations? Look, I am not a masochist, and I donít think you are either. Why would a Christian rejoice greatly in adversity? One reason: He looks ahead and sees the future by faith and says, "This will be good. It will be worth it." When I look ahead with eyes of faith, the end result will be good. Thatís what causes the believer to rejoice greatly.

James 1:2-4 "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

I donít know about you, but when I hit Bible passages verses like this one, thatís when I say to myself that I need to do more thinking about the biblical idea of suffering. If I were writing a letter to one of my friends, you would probably not find a sentence in my letter saying, "I am considering it all joy that I am suffering." I donít do that by nature. Do you? So when I hit these verses in the Bible, I say, "I need to think differently; I need to think more biblically."

But here is the apostle Paul, who did think about affliction Christianly: "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

Are there any benefits in adversity? Are there advantages to suffering?

  1. When you are in a tough spot and you rejoice and people see your faith, they glorify God. I have seen that happen. I have sat in funeral homes where Christians have suffered great loss, and I have heard non-Christians next to me say, "I canít believe the faith of that person. They must serve a huge God." I am an eyewitness to lost people glorifying God because godly people have an unswerving faith.
  2. When you suffer loss, you reexamine your priorities. Christians almost universally confess the need to reexamine their priorities; sometimes God helps us.
  3. Affliction cultivates dependence upon God. It encourages more appreciation for spiritual comforts, as opposed to earthly comforts. To put this a different way: suffering weans you from the world. It helps us to "love not the world, neither the things in the world."
  4. Hardship exposes my sin. Often difficulty lays me bare before God; I see myself with greater clarity.
  5. Difficulty promotes endurance and perseverance. The more you face adversity, the better equipped you are to face it in the future.
  6. Suffering encourages both more contentment and less satisfaction with the world . . . more spiritual contentment and less worldly satisfaction.

The old Puritan pastor Abraham Wright wrote, "I am mended by my sickness, enriched by my poverty, and strengthened by my weakness. What fools we are, then, to frown upon our afflictions! They are not indeed for our pleasure, they are for our profit." Another Puritan pastor, William Secker, said something similar: "Sin is pleasant but unprofitable; sorrow is profitable but unpleasant. . . . saints are generally holiest when in affliction."

Pastor John Piper has observed that you never hear anyone (neither Christian nor non-Christian) say, "I learned the really meaningful and valuable lessons of life during times of ease and comfort." Have you ever heard anyone say that? But you frequently hear godly Christians say, "Every major advance I have ever made in my Christian life, every breakthrough, has come as the result of hardship and difficulty."

In fact, the way God uses adversity suggests a kind of spiritual growth formula. It looks something like this:

PAIN + TIME + INSIGHT = CHANGE

III. Three Reasons Why This Is a Poorly Understood Part of the Christian Life

Let me suggest to you at least three reasons why this is a poorly understood part of the Christian lifeó three hindrances that prevent us from thinking Christianly about the issue of hardship.

A. We think it is unspiritual to talk about (or admit to) difficulty, pain, hardship, and/or suffering.

Sometimes we are secretly afraid that we will scare away unbelievers if we talk about these kinds of things.

Sometimes we think that mature Christians are always chipper and giggly and bubbly, and that only bad Christians face struggles and grief. We criticize the TV preachers who present a health, wealth, and prosperity message. However, we do much the same thing when we fail to acknowledge the Bibleís message that it is only through many tribulations that we will enter the Kingdom of God.

Friends, we deceive unbelievers and we do great harm to Christians when we perpetuate this myth that really mature Christians live problem-free lives.

John Piper offers this nice explanation of the Apostle Paulís understanding of suffering:

The Christian life for Paul was not the so-called good life of prosperity and ease. Instead, it was a life of freely chosen suffering beyond anything we ordinarily endure. Paulís belief in God, and his confidence in resurrection, and his hope in eternal fellowship with Christ, did not produce a life of comfort and ease that would have been satisfying even without resurrection. No, what his hope produced was a life of chosen suffering. Yes, he knew joy unspeakable. But it was a Ďrejoicing in hopeí (Romans 12:12). (Desiring God, by John Piper, pg. 214-215)
Paul did not see his relation to Christ as the key to maximizing his physical comforts and pleasures in this life. No, Paulís relation to Christ was a call to choose suffering. (Desiring God, pg. 219)

The call of Christ is a call to live a life of sacrifice and loss and suffering that would be foolish to live, if there were no resurrection from the dead. "In Paulís radically different viewpoint I saw an almost unbelievable indictment of Western Christianity." (Desiring God, pg. 219)

B. We wrongly define "adversity" as "intentional persecution aimed at me by bad men."

In other words, when I think of suffering or affliction, I tend to limit it to intentional acts of persecution, like when a non-Christian ridicules my face or makes life hard for me. But this is not a good way of understanding suffering for Christís sake. I think there is a more biblical way of looking at it.

"Suffering for Christís sake" is any hardship or difficulty I encounter as a result of (or in the course of) my obeying God and choosing to follow Christ as He directs. In other words, if I am doing what God wants me to do, and hardship comes, that is suffering for Christís sake.

John Piper has a nice way of explaining this; Iíll borrow his illustration. Imagine with me a missionary who obeys God and travels to a far away village that is infested with tuberculosis. The missionary ministers in the disease-infested village. While doing the work God has for him to do in the village, the missionary contracts tuberculosis. The missionary does not die, but there is pain, hardship, and sacrifice. It is very unpleasant. Is that missionary suffering for Christís sake? I think we would say yes. There is no intentional persecution aimed at him by evil men, is there? No. This is a hardship the missionary encountered as the result of obeying Godó as a result of choosing to follow Christ as He directs. So yes, I think that the missionary who contracts tuberculosis while ministering is suffering for Christís sake. But isnít every faithful Christian just like that missionary who travels to a disease-infested village? When you go to work, arenít you traveling to a sin-infested environment to do Godís work? Arenít you ministering to sin-infested people in order to advance the kingdom of God? Parents, when you discipline and train your childrenóall the while fighting this present world, worldly values, and sin inside your own childrenó arenít you obeying Christ in a sin-infested environment? And young people, when you are with your peers and interact with them, and there is pressure on you to compromise, arenít you really living for Christ in a sin-infested world full of sin-infested pleasures? In other words, in some sense arenít all obedient Christians like missionaries who have traveled to the faraway village . . . only it is called planet earth? And there is a disease here: it is called sin. And we are here laboring in a sin-infested environment.

This is the way Piper finishes up this illustration: "When you stop to think about it, all of life, if it is lived earnestly by faith in the pursuit of Godís glory and the salvation of others, is like the Christian who goes to a disease-ridden village. The suffering that comes is part of the price of living where you are in obedience to the call of God. In choosing to follow Christ in the way that He directs, we choose all that this path includes under His sovereign providence. Thus, all suffering that comes in the path of obedience is suffering with Christ and for Christ.

Here are just some practical examples of how believers are called to endure hardship in this life:

This is all suffering for Christís sake. This is all hardship that a sovereign God brings into a believerís life as a believer denies himself, takes up his cross, and follows Christ. God could have withheld such affliction but did not; thus the affliction came (in some sense) from Godís hand.

Here is a third thing that prevents us from thinking Christianly about suffering.

C. We assume hardship is not Godís will, so we do not look for Godís purposes in the trial.

I often assume that hardship is not Godís will for me, so I do not look for Godís purposes in the trial.

I am going to be honest with you: it is with shame that I confess to you that when times are good, I can talk boldly about Godís sovereignty. When the sun is shining, I can be eloquent and I can discuss how God oversees all that happens in the world. I affirm that there are no accidents in the world; I affirm that God is in control of all events. I proclaim a sovereign God who causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. But when suffering comes into my life, it seems like my pain overwhelms my faith. I get very nearsighted. My spiritual vision fails.

In practice, I start devoting all my time and energy to stopping the hardship. I have one focus: my mind is dominated by how to stop the adversity. And often I do not look for Godís purposes in the trial. My thoughts are all about escape and not about sanctification. The hardship is so big to me, it is almost like an eclipse of the sun. The hardship eclipses God, and I donít see Him at all.

I donít want to be misunderstood here. It is reasonable to minimize your suffering in some settings. If it is hot, it is okay to use an air conditioner. If you are sick, it is okay to take medicine. If you have a headache, take an aspirin. Thatís not what we are talking about.

We must understand that a sovereign God brings difficulties into our lives for a good reason. This means that you and I are called to do more than just escape. We are called to do more than just get out of the difficulty. We are called to learn how to respond biblically to the difficultyósee the benefit that God has for us, learn what God wants us to learn, glorify Him by our faith if that is what God has called us to doóbut somehow, look beyond just escape.

One last thing to consider:

IV. How Should Christians Persevere Through Affliction?

You will face afflictionóit is going to happenóhow will you face it? What is the biblical strategy for persevering through hardship? There is a biblical strategy.

The biblical strategy for persevering through hardship is to outweigh it.

Here is what I mean by that. When you are in the midst of suffering, all the weight seems to be on the side of the adversity. All the weight is on the side of the difficulty. It is as though we are unable to see anything outside of our own difficulties, outside of our own pain, and the weight of suffering and the weight of pain can seem to be unbearable. By faith we must consider glory weightsóI am going to invent that termóglory weights that are heavier than our "pain weights." Pain weights donít go away, but they are balanced and even outweighed by glory weights.

Is there a scriptural warrant for this idea of glory weights? Yes.

2 Corinthians 4:17 "Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison."

Paul is talking here about glory weights. He is instructing believers to compare momentary and light weights to eternal glory weights.

Doesnít the Lord Jesus Christ Himself also instruct His people to consider glory weights?

Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in Heaven is great."

According to Jesus, we donít respond to insults and persecution by silencing our enemy. Rather, we are to consider our glory weights in Heaven.

The Bible sets before us a whole array of glory weights that are "heavier" than our adversity weights. The Bible describes glory weights like eternal blessings in Heaven: believers will dwell in Heaven for all eternity. Do you know how long and eternity is? Eternity is a long time! That is a big glory weight.

There is another glory weight: Godís sanctifying work here on earth.

There is a glory weight like God using our hardship to bless other people and to comfort other people. God often uses your hardship to better equip you to help others.

The biblical glory weights counterbalance; they lighten all kinds of affliction weights. That is the biblical strategy for dealing with adversity: You count up your glory weights.

Isnít this what the Lord Jesus Christ did? In Hebrews 12, we are told that Jesus faced the most extraordinary suffering weights imaginableó when He bore the sins of all Godís people and absorbed Godís punishment on the cross. What did the Lord Jesus Christ do? How did Messiah get through this ordeal? What strengthened the Son of God when he faced unspeakable affliction? Didnít Jesus consider the glory weights that were greater than the weights of suffering and pain?

Hebrews 12:1b-3 . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart.

This passage does not mean Jesus thought crucifixion was fun. Noó what it is saying is that Jesus saw the joy that was on the other side of the cross. It was "for the joy set before Him" that He endured the cross. Jesus saw the glory weights that were greater than the weights of adversity and the pain. Because of the good things that would come later, Jesus endured the horrors of the cross.

And notice something else: Hebrews 12 tells us not once but twice to focus upon the Lord Jesus Christ (i.e., "fixing our eyes on Jesus" and "consider Him."). Do you know why the Word of God tells us in times of adversity to look clearly at the Lord Jesus Christ? Because He is the chief glory weight. He is the biggest glory weight. Even a partial view of the beauties of the Lord Jesus Christóthe joy of sitting in fellowship with Himóthat is a glory weight so large that it trumps, it counter-balances, it out-weighs the adversity weights that we face here on earth. Granted, this apprehension of heavenly glory weights is a matter of faith. This is why in Isaiah 50:10, the instruction is, "Let Him trust and rely." When you face difficulty, trust: be confident that the risen Lord Jesus Christ outweighs all the weights of your affliction. Thatís an enormous glory-weight. In the words of the old hymn writer, "It will be worth it all when we see Jesus."



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