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Lazarus - Suffering Doesn't Mean God Hates You

"The Beggar" Aziz Ben
Luke 16:19-21 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.  At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores."
When we think of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, we tend to focus on the aspect of the rich man ending up in hell. He could see, was fully conscious, could hear, could think, reason and could feel. Lazarus often gets past over. As if he's only the counter weight to the rich man's plenty.

Lazarus was poor. It appears he was in such dire poverty due to leprosy, which was a common ailment back then. He was forced to beg just to survive. So down, so low was Lazarus, he yearned to have the scraps from the rich man's table. Even the scraps, that were discarded and thrown away, were far better than what Lazarus was having to live on. To make matters worse, Lazarus was further humiliated and beaten down by having the local, roaming dogs surround him to lick his open sores. Beggars weren't treated kindly and were often viewed as having committed some grievous wrong against God to be in such a state (John 9:2). The people assumed he was under a curse and treated him that way. Like most of humanity, we keep our eyes fixed on the shiny objects in front of us, lust after them and miss the real treasure the earth can't contain.

"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side." Luke 16:22

The beggar didn't inherit eternal life simply because he was poor, a beggar and sick did he? Of course not. How would the diseased, down trodden beggar end up in eternity if he wasn't in a relationship with God?  He wouldn't have. Obviously, despite his deplorable circumstances in life, this man was a lowly servant of the Most High God. Despite that, he suffered far more than most of us could ever imagine. By all worldly accounts, he didn't appear to be blessed by God in any way, shape or form. Subsequently, it appeared that the rich man, was in fact, the one blessed by God.

There was a much bigger picture that would reverberate throughout time to teach billions of people to come, however. In order to have that reverberation and impact, God allowed Lazarus to suffer. Lazarus may have suffered greatly in his short life while the rich man seemed to enjoy life, but in the end the roles were entirely switched. Now Lazarus was enjoying life, and not just any life, his is lasting forever, while the rich man now suffers beyond anything even Lazarus could ever begin to comprehend.

Don't be deceived. Trying to accomplish your best life now means you're forfeiting an eternal life later. The rich man had his "best life now" yet, with all his riches, with all his luxury, ease and "happiness", he lacked what Lazarus had...a relationship with the Judge. By the time the rich man realized it was all worth nothing, he was already in hell. What we endure now is a vapor. It's like spitting in the ocean compared to what's to come. This life is the closest we will ever get to hell. While for most others like the rich man, this life is the closest they will ever get to heaven. How many of us in the west are suffering like Lazarus did or even coming close?

Despite the conditions Lazarus lived in daily, he never turned on God. He never demanded better. He never whined or complained that the rich man lived in ease while he suffered. He lived in horrible conditions, but the one thing he did have was a treasure even the rich man couldn't afford: a relationship with the Almighty God.

"Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. " Psalm 73:25-26

Having all the riches in the world is not a testimony to God greatness, love and mercy. Being a Lazarus and still trusting God and serving Him in spite of suffering is a testimony heard loud and clear by everyone. Millions of people have been won to Christ while witnessing Believers being persecuted severely and suffering in some way, but still refusing to compromise, complain or lose faith. Persecution and suffering is what made the Gospel spread like wild fire during Biblical times. Persecution and suffering still spreads the Gospel even today.

If you're suffering or being persecuted then be encouraged. Be content in your situation and with what little you may have (Hebrews 13:5-6). There is a much bigger picture that goes far beyond your situation and will reach to the ends of the universe and the depths of hell. If we know God controls all things and nothing can happen without His permission then therein lies our comfort.

Who do you have in heaven? God. What can earth possibly offer you to take His place? Though you suffer, though your body fail you, though you suffer persecution for the cross, though you lose everything and everyone you love, God is your strength and inheritance. Not heaven. Not riches. Not meeting up with long lost loved ones in Heaven like a bus station. God is your treasure and strength and this world, and all we experience in it, is only temporary and a speck in eternity.

Frances Chan "What are you living for?" He puts this short life we wade through compared to eternity, in a very clear and powerful perspective.


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Disclaimer: I do not condone the teaching of men by women nor am I trying to exercise authority over men by using this blog as a method of teaching men. All posts are for the edification of women. For more on what I believe concerning this issue please see: Women - No Dominion Over Men
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