Escapism Conclusion – Part 4
Romans 5:2-5 “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
It is important for us to know what the Lord is doing when some unpleasant things come our way. Sometimes it is hard for us to see that the Lord has a plan for our lives and that He desires for us to be conformed into the image of His Son, in whom He is well pleased.
The Greek word for suffering is ‘thlipsis.’ It means pressure. It is a word that was used for sentencing people to death who committed certain crimes. For their crimes these criminals were laid on the floor or ground with a board across their chest. Then weights were added until they were completely crushed to death.
Some years back my family and I were in Toledo, Spain (the third oldest city in Spain) and we visited what is known as the ‘Museum of Torture’ that had on display some of the torture machines that were used during the Spanish Inquisition. Seeing some of these devices that were used for torture made me wonder how man could be so cruel towards his fellowman.
On the wall I saw a drawing of what I described above of a man lying on the floor with weights being added onto his chest until he was crushed to death. In 2 Corinthians Paul uses this word when he says: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” 2 Corinthians 1:8 “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10
This is an interesting concept that Paul is getting across here. Paul said that he rejoices in this type of pressure because he knows what it is producing in him.
It is often through these hardships or pressures that God wants to produce in us His ‘agape’ love. This is the only love that the Lord Himself manufactures and this is what we need to see in our lives.
In all the unpleasantness that He allows to come our way God’s purpose is to produce in us a genuine love. In the world there is much false love masquerading as being the real thing. Real love that the Lord wants to see in us often comes through the hardships of life.
It is this type of love that is the real power in the universe. When this love is manifested, this is maturity. It is not a wishy-washy kind of love, but one that always will come with truth, and receive the truth humbly. This love will walk in the light and confront the person in order to make things right with the relationship.
Everything that you and I are going through or what comes our way has been allowed by God for one thing: to produce ‘agape’ love in us. This love does not come through study or good intentions, but through the hard knocks of life.
The result of this love is unity in right relationships. Someone has said: “The kingdom of God is a kingdom of right relationships.”