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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Monday-Roadmap

Updated: Apr 30

 

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

 

Colossians 1:24

 

When we went on our first family vacation, we drove our relatively new 1956 Buick Special from Baltimore to Miami. Only small pieces of the Interstate system were finished, so my dad patched together a route from a bunch of different roads.

 

We had these AAA maps all over the car. While there was one for the entire east coast of America, we also had one map for each of the six states that we’d be driving through. Remember that those were the days before air conditioning in cars. So trying to use those maps with the wind blowing through open windows while driving 60 miles an hour was really challenging. If not impossible.

 

We not only needed a map back then, but we need a map today. We need a map on how we’re going to get somewhere. Achieve something. And like all maps, there’s a starting and ending point. Getting from where you are to where you want to go.

 

The starting point that most people seem to have is suffering and pain. We’re all going to experience them. They’re either here, just leaving, or just around the corner. So, it’s not a matter of if but a matter of when.

 

When suffering and pain come, what are we to do? How are we going to handle it? What’s the roadmap for going through suffering and pain? Since God gave Paul a roadmap during his suffering, I think that’s a good place to look.

 

Paul didn’t try to just ignore his suffering, pretending that it wasn’t there. No, he faced his suffering head on. He looked at it in light of God’s overwhelming love for him. He compared his pain to God’s lavish grace.

 

Basically, Paul took the weight of his pain and suffering in one hand and compared that to God’s mercy in the other. He immediately figured out that there was no comparison to God’s unbelievably tremendous love for him. The result was that his sorrow turned into joy.

 

Now it would be easy to just think that Paul was exaggerating his problems. That he was just being a baby and not man enough to spend a few days in a minimum-security facility.

 

After all, how tough could it be? Here’s a quick summary of what Paul experienced. Whipped five times by the Jews. Beaten with rods three times. Stoned. Shipwrecked three times. Left adrift at sea. And these are only some of the highlights. It doesn’t include his moving from place to place all the time. Being hungry. Cold. Without enough clothing. Without water[1].

 

Now I’m not trying to make too big a deal out of what Paul lived through. I don’t want to ignore what you’ve gone through in the past. Or lessen what you’re going through right now.

 

My point is that since Paul went through lots and lots of suffering and pain, he’s the voice of experience. He’s earned the right to speak. He’s deserving of our respect and our listen to him.

 

So, we need to do what Paul did. We need to compare all our suffering to all that God has done for us. Our first task is to work through who God is and all he’s done for us. For some people, this will be their first journey along the road of searching out who God is. If you need a little bit of help, go to GotQuestions.org and type in “Who is God.”[2] Then enter “Salvation[3] to get a list of all the things God has done for us in Jesus.

 

As you look at all God has done for us, be sure to remember that we did nothing to deserve any of it. God didn’t look at us and say, “My my. Just look at those beautiful and friendly people.” Just the opposite. We’re stinky, foul-smalling and foul-acting people in the sight of a holy God.

 

Then think about all the things that you are suffering through. All the pain. All the disappointments. As you work your way through your life experience, it might be painful to bring up what’s happened in the past and going on right now.

 

Don’t hurry either one. Both are important. They will take time. It might be helpful to write both lists down. This can help you “walk through the valley of the shadow”[4] of your life. But, on the other hand, don’t obsess to get each and every little thing listed.

 

When we do the comparison, the flood of God’s goodness will overwhelm us with joy. It won’t even be a contest. It will be like the Little League against Major League Baseball. Peewee football against the NFL. Go-Karts against NASCAR.

 

But there’s another step - remembering all that God has done for us. It takes our mind off what’s bothering us today. It will move thoughts about our suffering to the side and replace them with beautiful images of who God is. Memories of all that God has done for us. All his blessings. All his kindness. All his mercy. All his grace.

 

That’s the roadmap to get us off the rough path. The roadmap of placing our focus only on our suffering and pain with him and him alone. Now that’s the trip of a lifetime. A journey worth taking.


[1] 2 Corinthians 11:23-27

[4] Psalm 23:4

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