Safe from what?
Yes, we are to guard our hearts as Proverbs 4:23 tells us, but it's not referring to protecting our hearts from suffering, but rather it's referring to not succumbing to the grip of sin in the midst of life's heartaches and pain.
And as God's children, we have the power within us to say, "No!" to sin.
Have you ever said or heard someone else say, "You're not the boss of me!"?
I have. I've actually said it myself, even as a grown-up. (I know. Don't judge me.)
There is one, though, to whom we can actually say, "You're not the boss of me!" and say it with bombastic authority.
Yep! Satan! The number one enemy of our souls.
I've spent a lot of time in 1 Peter chapter 1 this year, and verses 3-9 have grabbed my heart and have not let go.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy, He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being guarded by God's power through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials so that the proven character of your faith - more valuable than gold which, though perishable, is refined by fire - may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (HCSB -emphasis and capitalization of God pronouns are mine).
O.M.Goodness! I just want to shout every time I read this passage.
Only Jesus is the Boss of me.
Because of our faith, God is guarding our hearts with His power! He's not guarding us from pain, suffering, and anything else we think we aren't suppose to experience. He's guarding our hearts for safe-keeping because we belong to Him. Our suffering, pain, hurt, rejection, loneliness, etc... has divine purpose - the proven character of our faith.
We are not above suffering. Our Savior left His rightful place in heaven to suffer the ultimate price for our souls. Suffering was what Christ came to do. His suffering led Him to the cross to die for you and for me so we might be saved from the entrapment of sin on earth and eternal separation from the Father. Now, when we experience trials and tribulations here on earth, He empowers us to endure, not to necessarily take it all away. Remember Job?
The Spirit's responsibility in the redemption of a believer's heart is not to guard it from pain, but to guard it from sin. The Holy Spirit living inside of you and me is constantly renewing, refining strengthening, and empowering us to overcome sin in the midst of whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. Not-the-boss-of-me is seeking to destroy us by distracting us into thinking that the goal of our faith is to free us from suffering, when the real goal of our faith is the salvation of our souls.
It's our perception of suffering that has us stuck and stagnant.
Suffering is part of the salvation process. Suffering was written into our stories.
All suffering has purpose - to move us closer into the loving embrace of Jesus. Suffering will disappear when our salvation is complete - when our faith becomes sight.
In the meantime, we can live with abundant joy in our hearts because we belong to our Savior.
1. How is your suffering drawing you closer to Christ?
2. Are you trying to pray your suffering away, or are you praying for strength to endure and to not fall into sin while going through it?
3. How has God used your suffering for His glory?
I would love to hear your thoughts.