"The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded” (John 10:17-18).
Yeshua, our Jesus Christ, chose suffering. He laid down His life – and He asks the same of you and me today. Would you choose to daily die to self for His sake?
When I read Paul’s letters to the churches I can see that the Christian life was not the so called “good life” of prosperity and comfortable living. Instead, it was a life of servanthood, and freely choosing suffering for the Kingdom of God. Paul’s belief of eternity was based on his confidence in the resurrection and his hope for eternal fellowship with Christ. This outlook on the purpose of life produced a lifestyle that was not consumed by a desire for comfort and ease, but a life that was consumed with things that had eternal value. This hope – Christ in me, the hope of glory – produced a life that mattered, because Paul chose suffering for Christ above worldly gratification. He chose the trading floor of YHVH, and not the trading floor of Lucifer and the Babylonian system.
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patientin trouble, and keep on praying” (Romans 12:12). Paul rejoiced in hope despite his suffering!
On which trading floor are you trading? Where do you trade your thoughts, your words, your deeds? Is it life or is it death that results from your trading floor? What does the result of your choices looklike? Do you allow God to use your marriage, your friendships, and your workplace, to teach you how to die to self? Maybe God is using your children to get you to a place of total dependency on Him? Whatever it may be, it is never an easy process, because it involves difficult choices: “Lord, I choose to die,I choose to be the least, I choose to find my joy in You, I choose to live for what I can’t see rather than to strive after things that will surely pass away.”
Once you realize that your happiness doesn’t lie inyour circumstances, you will become content in your situation as you start yielding everything to God and trusting Him for the future. The happiness that we all seek is the joyful hope that lies just beyond our suffering. That is the point Paul made in Romans 5:3-5: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will notlead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
So, there is joy to be found in our afflictions. The joy comes because of the hope that affliction itself is helping to secure and increase. So if there were to be no hope, Paul would have been foolish to embrace his affliction, and even a greater fool for rejoicing in it. But I know today, just like Paul, that there is hope – the kind of hope that never disappoints – and it will only be found in Christ.
Now, you may ask: “What about the sickness, accidents,and suffering that we didn’t choose?” You must remember that there is still a spiritual battle that we need to fight – otherwise God wouldn’t have given us armour and weapons. We have to protect ourselves from the attacks of the enemy; but in the process of any kind of suffering we need to remember that what the enemy meant for evil, God can turn around for our good. Satan wants to use suffering to destroy our faith, but when we surrender everything to God he will use our fiery trials to purify our faith. Paul wrote to the church of Corinth about the thorn in his flesh: “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My graceis all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor. 12:8-10).
All experiences of suffering in the path of Christian obedience, whether from persecution or sickness, accident, rape, divorce,abuse, have this in common: they all threaten our faith in the goodness of God YHVH, our Father, and try to tempt us to leave the path of obedience in Christ. Therefore, in all the suffering that we endure it will ultimately form a part of our calling, with Christ and for Christ. When we go through suffering knowing that Christ is with us, He will be our strength and shield and we will have hope in the midst of the storm.
Satan has a design and outcome in mind with our suffering, but YHVH has a different design and outcome planned for that same suffering .Just give it all to Him, and start trading on the right trading floor – you will be amazed at what God would bring out of your worst nightmare. That is how I started knowing God. He allowed our family to walk this difficult road, to daily die to ourselves, to fight against the enemy’s plans for us, to stand in faith upon God’s Word…. And what the Lord has brought forth out of this whole journey is so beautiful: The character of God is being formed in us, and the sweet aroma of His presence now fills our lives, even in the midst of suffering.
It doesn’t surprize me that Paul referred to sufferingas a gift: “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him” (Philippians 1:29). Suffering is a gift to be embraced. Paul doesn’t give this Word of encouragement only to certain individuals like church leaders or apostles; this Word is meant for the whole church. Paul goes further and says that in our sufferings the glory of Christ’s all sufficient grace ismagnified. If we rely on Him in our calamity, He sustains our rejoicing inhope. He is shown to be the all satisfying God of grace and mercy and strength.He alone is God. But we have to hold fast to Him even when our soul feels weak. When we endure through these tests we will find that Yeshua is to be desired far more than anything of this world. Far, far, far more than our temporarycomfort.
This week was such a big week for our family. 22 Years ago my youngest brother and a young girl had a little baby boy out of wedlock. Tinus and I were newlyweds and we really wanted to adopt that baby. But YHVH knows the beginning and the end of each of our lives, and that baby boy wasn’t destined to be brought up by us. There was a lovely Mother and Father alreadyin place, waiting for their prayers to be answered to adopt a baby. So, today he is their beautiful son, 22 years of age. For all those years our family talked about him, prayed for him, and missed him. My mom (his grandmother), is the real intercessor in our family and she prayed the hardest of all of us. Without knowing anything of his whereabouts, all we could do was to pray and to trust God for his safety and wellbeing. Our deepest desire for him was always that he would have a relationship with God, and that he would listen as the Holy Spirit guides and directs his footsteps. Well, the big news that I want to share with you today is that after 22 years father and son have been reunited!
My brother wanted to search for his son for a very long time, but had to wait until he was a certain age before attempting to make contact with him. A few weeks ago my brother went to a social worker to try and find him. Within three weeks they tracked him down and a meeting was arranged. There was so much excitement in our family as we anticipated this reunion. The cousins, Sammy and Elisma, were up until 11 o’clock in the evenings writing letters to their brother – they couldn’t wait to meet him!
Last Saturday we hosted the Designed to be a Godly Woman event in Pretoria. During the first tea break the cousins came running up to me with a photo of their brother on a cell phone. It was the first look at him that anyone of us had seen in 22 years. We ran outside and all of us wanted to take the phone at the same time. He is so beautiful! The meeting with him was arranged for that following Wednesday. The recordings for my first God TV shows were scheduled for that same day, so I was a bit nervous for other reasons too. Kevin, the videographer that always helps me with my recordings,was at my house early that morning to help set up the studio where the recordings would take place. He noticed that I was a bit more jittery than usual and asked me if something was wrong. “No Kevie,” I answered, “nothing is wrong… It’s just that in precisely 10 minutes my brother will be meeting his son after 22 years!”
We started with the recording and I had to keep my phone on silent, but I held it close by to see when my brother gave me a call. Finally the call came through and while we were still busy shooting a scene I called “cut!” to take the call and find out how the meeting went. “Tell me everything, Christo!” I said as I answered the phoned.
“He’s just like I imagined him, Retah” my brother said,and I could hear the deep emotion in his voice. “He received the best education and the most wonderful loving family. How will I ever be able to thank God for protecting him and for giving him such a wonderful family? How will I ever be able to thank those parents for what they did? He will always stay their son,but the hole in my heart has been healed in one moment – the moment I saw him for the first time. I found my son, and Jesus will lead us the rest of the way.I have to go now… but I just wanted to let you know.”
After putting down the phone I had such a big smile on my face. I calmly sat down on the chair again and said to Kevin, “That’s God for you, Kevie! That’s the God we serve!”
With this amazing event that is going to change all of our lives, God has revealed something new to me about what He meant when He said that “God loved us first.”
During the break I made coffee for all of us and while I was waiting for the kettle to boil I clearly heard the Lord say to me,“Retah, can you see My heart in all of this? I just want to love My children. I love you just the way you are. Just come to Me.”
For 22 years there was a hole in my brother’s heart…a longing for his son. There were many times during those 22 years when I looked at him and saw the pain overtake him. Only after he turned to Yeshua completely and gave all his pain to Him, God came and took over and healed his heart. God is waiting for all of us. He says in His Word that those who seek Him will find Him.
We had the great pleasure of meeting my brother’s son later that afternoon. All that I can say is that we serve a MIGHTY God! God is so faithful! I can see the love of Yeshua in my young nephew’s eyes. He told us about his parents that gave him such a good upbringing and who loves him so much. They gave him their best. While he was telling us of his parents, the Lord clearly showed me that those parents who adopt children understand the Father’s heart. They are His hands and His feet. They care and provide and love their adopted children as if they were their own – with an unconditional love.Our heavenly Father has done the same for us: “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory”(Romans 8:15-17).
How can I ever thank these wonderful people? To every parent out there who has adopted and loved their special gift from God: thank you, thank you, thank you! You show the world what the heart of the Fatherlooks like.
There is a song that says: “Whisper His voice and he will answer you… Call out His name and He will come to you… Shout out his name – and He will run to you!”
That is how I feel today. I want to scream out: Yeshua,Yeshua, Yeshua we love you so much Lord!
I’m in cold Cape Town at the moment. I am busy recording radio interviews today, and the weekend I’ll be ministering here. I honour God for a life of laying oneself down – I choose Him above everything else!
Thank you for all of your love and e-mails. May the Lord Yeshua, our King, bless your soul.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the gloryt hat will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God”(Romans 8:18-21).