As we're running this race called life, it's helpful to remember where we are headed. If we are in Christ and are running this race the way He wants us to, then we are bound for glory.
In the midst of our daily trials and tribulations, though, we quickly understand that our physical bodies have limitations, aches, pains, diseases and will eventually expire. I'm glad there is part of us that will live on forever. That is the real essence of us, our souls and spirits.
It's hard not to focus on the fact that suffering is part of living in our current bodies of flesh, but suffering for Christ is not losing. It is winning. Romans 8:18 (NLT) tell us that "what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later."
Honor God With Your Body
Even though our bodies have expiration dates, our spirits don't. They can be renewed daily and live eternally. However, we shouldn't ignore our bodies because they are extremely important gifts to us from God. We should treat them with care.
First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body."
God wants us to take care of our bodies because they help us do the work He has for us here on earth. The work is the important thing, not how good our bodies look. I know most of us want to lose weight. We want to be more attractive. The only reason we should lose weight, though, is to honor God. That doesn't mean we need to all be a size 6. That means don't let your body control you.
I did that for way too long. My flesh was directing me down a path to early death, and I was along for what I thought was a "sweet" ride. I'm talking about the fact that I was addicted to sugar, and really, it is not a very sweet ride at all. Thank God that since 2013, I have been following what God wants me to do for my body's health.
Glory to Come
As Christians, we can look forward to the day when we will receive our heavenly bodies. Philippians 3:21 tells us that God "will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like His own, using the same power with which He will bring everything under His control."
I can't wait for the glory that we will one day experience. "For our present troubles are small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!" (2 Cor. 4:17).
There is really nothing on earth to compare this with. I've known some great moments—sweet, intimate moments with my husband, loving days with my children, beautiful experiences exploring God's creation, awesome times celebrating with family and friends and fulfilling times doing what God has called me to do. Multiply those by 1,000, and it still doesn't come close to the glory that will be revealed to us one day.
A Sneak Peak
First Corinthians 2:9 says, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." That verse always sends shivers of anticipation down my spine.
It's as if God is pulling back the curtain just a little to give us a sneak peek or a taste of what is coming. The suffering, the disappointments, heartaches and pains we encounter today are not a big deal because we are in a race to the finish line. We are bound for glory.
In many cases, suffering, to us, means denying what our flesh wants. It concerns only the body, but what God has for us in His heavenly kingdom is way beyond anything we desire today. It's beyond the greatest food we've ever eaten, beyond all the money in the world, beyond even the greatest love of our lives. The glory God has for us is something He created especially for our souls and spirits. It is eternal, which means the end of it does not exist.
Letting Go to Be Led
I can remember as a child having a favorite stuffed animal, a monkey named Skippy. I didn't want to share him with my little brother, even though my parents were trying to drill into me why it was the right thing to do.
We are doing the same thing today. We have things we won't let go of and hand to God, even though we know it is what He wants us to do and is the right thing. In the great scheme of things, though, the things we grasp so tightly are of no consequence compared to what God has promised us if we allow His Spirit to lead us completely.
We will be amazed at the blessings He sends our way when we simply let go of what we are holding on to and willingly allow Him to lead us.
God Is For Us
God wants the best for each of us. Though suffering is not what He wishes for anyone, if we go through some devastating issues, He will use them in some greater ways in our lives. He never wastes a thing we go through.
A friend recently requested prayer because someone had died in a tragic way, leaving a family with small children. She asked the question, "Where is God in this?" I believe God is right in the middle of any suffering and pain, giving comfort to those who will allow Him to do so.
Our earthly bodies are dying daily, so our focus must be on growing our commitment to God and connecting with Him to carry out our missions while we are here on earth.
I so want to hear Him say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
I love the thought of the glory that is to come, but those words are what I long to hear. They are what I look forward to the most. I know you do, too.
Now Father God, Comfort us. Settle us. Lead us. In Jesus' name.
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This article first appeared on teresashieldsparker.com.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of six books and two study guides, including her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Her sixth book, Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds, is live on Amazon. She blogs at teresashieldsparker.com. She is also a Christian weight loss coach (check out her coaching group at Overcomers Academy) and speaker. Don't miss her podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, available on CPN.
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