Their Language Is Praise

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

People who have endured suffering and proven God to be faithful are strong, mellow and patient. They have the gentleness of Christ. I love to be around such people! They encourage my spirit.

You will come through your trial and be of great help to others if you will trust God through it. You will see it happen on your job, in your family or in your church. People will be attracted to you because they know what you have gone through, and they have seen you gain the victory through the power of God alone.

Many believers who suffer never learn anything from it. As a result, they never know God as their comforter or consoler. To hear them talk, you would think God was hard, spiteful and uncaring. They ask, “Why me?” They doubt God’s love and begin to turn away from him. They moan, groan and murmur, and all their joy fades. Soon they grow bitter and hard.

I have a pastor friend who for years had a very successful ministry to troubled people. Today, sadly, he is deep in sin, drug-addicted and separated from God. His wife left him, and he has taken up with a drug-addicted woman.

When you ask him what happened, he blames it all on how others let him down. His wife left him; God didn’t answer his prayers; other ministers disappointed him. He says, “I really tried, but I just couldn’t take it. There were too many pressures, and there were so many hypocrites. I was misjudged, and I couldn’t handle that.”

The apostle Paul, even in the worst hour of his sufferings, blessed the name of the Lord. He knew the Father was full of mercy and the source of all his comfort. He did not question God or become bitter; in fact, he praised him in the midst of it all.

The best teachers in any church are not the ones in the pulpit. Rather, they are sitting in the pews right next to you, people who have suffered and yet still worship the Lord. The language of those who learn through suffering is praise!

The High and Low Views of God

Gary Wilkerson

There is a saying, “We don’t see things as they are, but as we are.” This is never truer than in how we see God. 

Over the years I’ve found it interesting how people view and relate to God. In Christianity, it falls into two general categories. Some see him as the sovereign creator of the universe, holy, all-knowing, ever-present and eternal. They feel secure within his embrace and accepting of his judgment as well as his mercy.

Others see God as a large version of people. He’s like them, only bigger. He thinks, feels and behaves like they do, just on a grander scale. This is a more common view because, let’s face it, we’re our only point of reference. There’s another reason, though. They’ve never been taught what the Bible says about who God is.

Protestant reformer John Calvin wrote, “By the knowledge of God, I understand that by which we not only conceive that there is some God, but also apprehend what it is for our interest.” I don’t learn how to live by stuffing God into my human box. Rather, when I step out of my limited world into his vast one, I see a God who just might have a few things to teach me. 

God’s world isn’t a place I’m familiar with; it wasn’t conceived by my imagination, nor did it take shape out of my soul’s yearnings. No, I was born already shaped in his image, my spirit fine-tuned to his presence. 

In Job 36-37, Job’s young friend Elihu attempts to give him a hand up from his misery and guide him to a place where he’s ready to hear from the headliner: God himself. Elihu knows Job’s recovery will only come when he fixes his eyes upon the Lord. “Bear with me a little,” he says, “and I will show you, for I have yet something to say on God’s behalf” (Job 36:2, ESV). He lifts Job vison by saying, “Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror?” (Job 37:18). Take a look, Job! Can you see? 

In the grand finale of chapters 38-41, Job hears from God himself. It is a passage that will take your breath away. When the Lord is finished, Job has found his footing again in a new perspective, repentance, comfort and peace. Read Job 36-42 when your heart needs healing. You will find restoration right there in God’s presence.

Honoring the Right Authorities

Jim Cymbala

Here’s a description that Peter was giving of people who are flying toward judgment. “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones” (2 Peter 2:9-10, ESV).

This defiling passion he talked about is the carnal desire of our natural self that is in opposition to the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. 

These are the people who say, “If it feels good to me, I do it. I sleep with whom I want. I switch partners when I want. I harm my body if I want. Hey, it’s my body! Don’t tell me drugs are bad for me. It’s none of your business. Don’t be judgmental. I hate the haters.” Underneath it all, these people are saying, “I ain’t giving up having my way. End of story, but I don’t want to say it like that because it sounds bad.” 

God said that judgment is coming on these people. They’ll answer for their lies, hate in their thought-life, racial prejudice. It’s interesting that Peter points out something else about these people, though. They despise all authority, whether it’s the authority of the Bible, their own parents, police officers, government, sexual restrictions, whatever. They want no authority over them because they want to be their own authority. Everyone should be allowed to do whatever they want! Except that would be a real nightmare. 

When we pray, “Oh God, help me follow the desires of the Holy Spirit within me”, that goes against defiling passions. It puts us under the authority of God and his Word. He created us, and in the end, we must see him and stand before him. So why not just listen to him? Saying no makes us like children, and it will cost us for an eternity. 

So let’s take the path of humility today. Let’s not follow the desires of our flesh; it’s a wretch. Let’s submit to proper authority, especially to God and his Word. That will honor God and give us peace and joy. 

Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.

At the End of Your Rope

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Paul wrote “. . . that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9, NKJV). He said, in essence, “The Lord brought me to the end of all human help, the brink of death. It was a place so hopeless, only the God of resurrection power could have rescued me.” What a wonderful place to be, at the end of your rope! 

I have always said that when you hit rock bottom, you bump into God. If you listen to most Christians in the midst of their suffering, though, you hear, “I’ll make it somehow. I’m hanging in there. I just live one day at a time.” Since childhood we have been spoon-fed the concept of self-sufficiency: “Take it like a man! Men don’t cry!” 

How many times have you tried to work out your own troubles? 

Please don’t misunderstand me. I believe God want us to fight the good fight of faith, but he has a way of allowing us to be “pressed out of measure.” Nothing you try works. Suddenly, you are forced into a crisis that obliterates all your trust in yourself. You have no hope except to give up all human hope. You are forced to trust God, and you see that it’s the only way out.

Paul was saying, “I had the sentence of death in me. I was tested beyond measure, at the end of my rope; and it was all so I would no longer trust in myself. I had to turn to God with faith that he alone could save me.”

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

What is this way of escape? It is reaching the end of your own strength and turning absolutely to God. It is saying, as Paul did, “I do not trust in myself anymore” with simple, childlike faith in God. It is trusting him totally to see you through it all, resigning yourself and saying, “God, I put everything on you!”

The Ministry of Consolation

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The apostle Paul said, “[The Lord] comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4, NKJV).

One of the neediest ministries in the church of Jesus Christ today is that of consolation, comforting others in their trouble and affliction. Many believers simply do not know where to turn when they are hurting.

When I am really suffering, I do not want to read a book outlining ten steps on how to find victory or go to a big-name evangelist who will zap me. None of these is the answer because none will reach the root of my suffering. No, I want to talk to an ordinary person who has suffered heavily and has come through it all praising God, comforted and full of faith!

It is suffering people who receive the consolations and comforts of the Lord. They know the sympathy of Jesus because his voice speaks true comfort to them in their hour of darkness. These sufferers become rich in spiritual resources. They develop a confidence born out of having endured tribulations and testing. Best of all, God gives them influence they could not have attained in any other way.

I think of Corrie Ten Boom and the wonderful experience it was for the thousands of people who sat and listened to her talk about Jesus. Many pastors and leaders all over the United States were comforted and encouraged by this once-unknown woman because her suffering had produced a wealth of knowledge of the Lord. She had an abundance of consolation and comfort from the Holy Spirit, and she used it as an influence for Jesus!

Paul could rejoice in his suffering because he knew it was for others’ benefit. He saw his trials as a kind of schooling he was going through. He could say, “God has a purpose in this because he is training me! There will be people who are going to need the comfort and consolation that I have received in my suffering.” Paul referred to his heavenly Father as “The Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). He saw the glorious, compassionate heart of God. He encouraged us to receive God’s comfort with joy and then to pay it forward.