Joy in the midst of suffering


silhouette-of-a-man-in-front-of-a-crossTurning on the TV today, can make one down right upset. There is the unrest in the Middle East and other places. People protesting, hating and killing one another. The economy is in shambles, many are without a job and can’t find one. The government is making promises it can’t keep and wants the people to rely and depend on the government to fix everything in due time. Many people have lost their hope.

The world seems to have become a dark place and is getting darker every day, as many are suffering in this time of uncertainty from a variety of circumstances. Is there a way out? Will this world ever get better? How much longer can it go on like this?

The world is struck with perplexity, just as the Bible tells us. Everyday, there is something reported in the news media that confirms that. The world has changed and is changing by the minute. The world as we know it is dissipating right before our own eyes.

Many people around the world are suffering and the joy that once existed or what is left of it seem to go down in flames. We are finding ourselves in a downward spiral. There seem to be more questions than answers. There are more and more politicians with their rhetoric proclaiming that they have the answers. Not!

Many Christian’s today find themselves in the same dilemma as those who are of this world. They have lost their joy in life. They seem to be hopeless and are suffering because of it. Of course I realize that Christians face many of the same problems as others do. Unemployment, financial problems, health issues and many other things that come with living in the 21st Century.

Here is my question in all of this, are we as believer in Jesus Christ exempt from all the problems that are in the world? Are we somehow shielded from all things? I think not, but are we to lose our joy in the midst of all the suffering?

First of all, let me say this, believers in Christ and His word should not be surprised at all when looking at this world. Jesus was very clear about how things will be in the last days. We as believers should be very aware, seeing the signs of the time, that the end is near.

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:28.

We do see many of these things starting to happen, the birth pangs are more frequent every day. The world is struck with perplexity. We are getting closer. Look up!

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” Luke 21:25, 26.

In the meantime, we as believers should not lose our joy. This world and it’s pleasures and problems will fade. We as believers have already eternal life, because we believe in Him Who laid down His life for us. That is something we should and need to rejoice in. This world is passing away, so why worry about these temporal things, we need to see the eternal picture. We need to see the world from God’s perspective.

Of course we will have trials and tribulations, our Lord told us so. But in the midst of all this suffering, we should not lose our joy. Paul suffered a lot as did many of the others that went before us, but they never lost their joy or purpose. They had eternity in view.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:6-9.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:18, 19.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8.

There are so many passages in the Bible, that speak of the joy within the believer. We need to rejoice, even in these dark days with all its suffering, both personal and in general. The joy of the Lord needs to be in us on our journey to the promised land, the path that leads to eternal life.

Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10.

The book of Philippians is also called the book of joy. Read it and see how Paul rejoiced in the midst of suffering.

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My Personal Testimony And How Jesus Transformed My Life.


It was May 14th 2006, a Sunday morning that began like many other mornings. I felt hung over and lousy after a week of drinking. This wasn’t the first time for me. I had plenty of those lousy days. Alcohol Had become a big problem in my life, in fact, a huge problem.  Growing up Germany,  alcohol was a part of my lifestyle and the culture.  Many of my friends that I hung out with started drinking from an early age.  Meeting friends, hang out in the Gasthaus/Pub and drink beers, was a daily routine. Getting up for work and meeting my friends afterwards for some beers in the Pub. 

I moved from Germany to San Diego, California at the age of 22. I was pretty tired of Germany, mainly because of the weather. It rained a lot and I loved the sunshine. I had visited California a few times in the late 70’s and thought,  “that’s the place where I want to be”.  I liked the sun, the beaches, the palm trees and the relaxed lifestyle that so many enjoy here in Southern California.  I had good times after I moved to the USA.  I had my own Piano business, played in a Reggae band and just enjoyed the relaxed lifestyle.

Later I worked for Taylor Guitars and after that, landed a great job with a major furniture manufacturer.  Things were going pretty well for me. I got married in 1995 to my wife and we lived in a nice place near the beach. Alcohol has always been part of my life. Drinking some beers after work was the norm. That was my life, meeting my drinking buddies and playing darts or whatever else came about. Once the alcohol took over, the judgment went out the window. I came home very late some days or not at all. I wasn’t thinking about my wife, my work. It was all about me. Seeking my own pleasures was way more important than my marriage and the responsibilities that came with it.  In 2003 things got worse. My drinking increased quite a bit. I moved out of the house and found my own place. I thought of it as my own little paradise, my sanctuary. But things only got worse from there.

I got involved with people who were heavy drinkers and we hung out in various bars around town.  Alcohol influences people and brings out the worse in them. I was never a violent person when drinking,  I was just drinking to have a good time.  Many people believe that drinking is relaxing and brings about a better attitude.  I used to think the same way. Somehow I thought after the 2nd or 3rd pint things looked much better and oh, how much fun I had. I used to call it an attitude adjustment. Have you ever hung around people who had a bit too much to drink and they thought they were cool and funny? They are really not that funny, when you are sober.  Life becomes very miserable when alcohol takes over your life and controls you. Everything starts to revolve around drinking and nothing else matters.  It becomes a snare that entangles people. I always denied having an alcohol problem. Even when people pointed it out to me. I was just in denial as many others, that drink or do drugs. Alcohol and drugs are deceivers. They give pleasure for a short time but then they sting like a viper and take control over peoples lives .

It was in early 2005 that I received the news that my father had died in Germany.  I attended the funeral with my mom and some of my relatives. Hearing the news was terrible. It really hit me hard while I was sitting in the small chapel facing my dad’s coffin. I loved my dad, he was a good man. I always had a good relationship with him. My mom of course was devastated and I stayed for 3 month with her  in Germany.  I started going out and drinking in the local pubs. I think I was just tuning out not wanting to deal with the reality that my dad had passed away. I was drowning my sorrows with alcohol. That was my way of  suppressing things.

Coming back to the States, I continued that trend. Drinking before work, during work and of course after work. The drinking started to take over my life. It affected my work and one day I just walked off the job. I began to drink around the clock, going on binges that would last for at least a week.  After those binges I got really sick for a few days, promising myself never to drink again. That promise would maybe last for a week or two and I was right back doing the same thing. A terrible cycle with the same results, feeling sick.

I remember the morning of May 14th very well. I sat on my patio chair feeling extremely sick from a week of heavy drinking. As I was sitting there all by myself as I began to cry out: “God, please help me. I don’t want to be like this anymore. This is not me.  Please if You are there, help me.” 

From that moment on, my life changed. I was still feeling sick, but something happened to me. Something wonderful. I had totally lost the desire of drinking and I started to seek God. I bought a Bible and read for hours and hours,  taking in every word.  Looking at my first Bible that I bought and seeing all the notes I scribbled and the many verses that I underlined, I find myself wondering, when did I do all that? 

To be honest, I didn’t know much about God before and what the Bible revealed about Him.  I didn’t know anything about repentance, forgiveness, justification and sanctification. I heard about God and of course I heard about Jesus and that He died on the cross, but that’s about it. I never really understood what it really meant, God giving His only begotten Son for me and my sins. I never knew how wonderful God’s Grace is.

Reading God’s word opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on life and I believed. The word of God is so wonderful and healing  and it is the absolute truth. Jesus is the Savior of the world and He became my personal Lord and Savior that day.

Today,  I am so grateful to God. He continues to change my life day by day. I have become a new creation, old things have passed away. I have since reconciled with my wife, left the old things behind and I never looked back. Satan may accuse me everyday before God,  calling me unworthy and a failure. He is right, I am.  But I also know this, I am what I am, but I am not what I used to be.

It is not my righteousness that God looks at, it is the imputed righteousness of Jesus that the Father looks upon. I don’t have any righteousness on my own.  I can never please God on my own. The gospel i.e. the good news is that God did for me what I could not do for myself.  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

For me,  it is all about Jesus and what He  accomplished on the cross. The word that became flesh and dwelled among us. Who is this Jesus that transformed my life?  He is God the Son Who became one of us. He came as the suffering servant to shed His blood on the cross for the sin of the world.  Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp beyond recognition. The Roman soldiers plucked His beard out, beating Him repeatedly.  He endured the cross, the shame and the mocking of His own countrymen and the Romans because He loved us.  Jesus came for that very purpose, to die on the cross at the appointed time for sinners like me.

From the beginning of His ministry to the arrival to Jerusalem on a donkey to the death on the cross, was not only prophesied.  Jesus was on a divine timeline determined by the Father long before the foundation of the world. The death of Christ was no accident or just another criminal dying at the hands of the Roman government. Jesus committed no crime, yet He was condemned to death. Jesus despite the shame, willingly laid down His life for you and me.  He gave His life to give eternal life to those who would believe in Him. All you need to do is to ask God for forgiveness and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There is no sin that you or anyone else has committed that God will and cannot not forgive, no matter what a person may have done. God loves mankind.  All He wants is for us  to return to Him and He will heal us and cleanse us from all sin. Jesus has transformed my life and He is continuing to transform my life. He will do the same for you. All you need to do is ask Him to come into your life.
God is not distant at all. Stop whatever you are doing,  turn around and He is right there with arms wide open.

“Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:6, 7

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Mat 7:7, 8

Jesus is Lord, yet He declares His Lordship through the power of humility and grace…

“Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher. He never owned a home. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family. He never went to college. He never put his foot inside a big city. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He never did one of those things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but himself….

“While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed on a cross between two thieves. While he was dying his executors gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth – His coat. When he was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

“Nineteen long centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever were built, all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life.”  Jesus is Lord – Excerpts from “One Solitary Life” (author unknown)

Jesus is the only true and living God. I am thankful that He has saved me. He is the only One that can transform a person’s life. Religions can not transform a person. Certain philosophies cannot transform a person. All religions and philosophies are man centered and futile. Man cannot save himself by empty and vain attempts, trying to reach God on their own merit.  God reached down to mankind through His Son Jesus Christ, Who is mighty to save. Only He can change the heart and only He can transform a person’s life. Thank you Jesus for the truth and Your love that You have shown to me. May others that are currently in a similar situation as I was,  seek You and find You. Maranatha Lord Jesus.