Philippians 1:29 NKJV
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”
Today I had planned to give the day to studying and preparing for Sunday, being that the Lord has opened the door for me to teach in English here on Sundays, but it has been a little more difficult to concentrate than I had hoped for. I woke up this morning with what I call “enfermedad de gringo”, in other words my body doesn’t have all the bacteria immunities yet to a lot of the things going around in Cuenca.
I was told the water in Cuenca is the best in South America and you can drink straight from the tap, I still think they were right about that since I have been drinking the water for weeks with no issues. Although I didn’t bring immunities with me to Ecuador I certainly still brought my appetite for food. I feel like what I have been doing for the last 4 or 3 weeks is eating and eating and eating. I think my appetite finally got the best of me.
I went to bed last night with a mild stomach ache and woke up with traveler’s runs and stomach pains. I am thinking that I have a more mild case of it since I had a full dose last time I was here in Cuenca two years ago. I don’t want to make it sound worse than it is, because I have had worse in my life and there are others that have it much, much worse. I am only going to use to teach a lesson, since it is something the Lord is teaching me through it.
My first thought was take some antibiotics that I brought with me for this very purpose, but after thinking about I decided to sit it out as long as I could, in hopes that my immunity system would be stronger because of it. That’s still my plan and it looks like I am going to make it, since as the British say it, I am on the mend. That said God has given me a brain, if I need to use the meds at a later date I’m not too proud to do so, I’m just trying to make a point that a little bit of being sick can be a good thing.
What the Lord reminded me though was that suffering builds immunity for your faith like suffering through traveler’s runs builds immunities for your body. It’s necessary and sometimes you just got to grit your teeth and go through it. I was not without the comfort of others through it though, Maria the house cleaning lady (before you scoff that we have one let me point out the house functions as both the church office and a place of fellowship, as well as a Sunday school and the place where other studies meet. Churches have janitors do they not? I’f it were not for hiring her we would literally spend all week cleaning up after people and have no time for study and prayer), made me some herbal tea, consisting of a concoction of lime, sugar, oregano, and some other thing that I don’t think translates to English. It actually helped a lot.
After trying to study some more I thought better of it and resorted to a good old fashioned nap. I felt a little bit better after I woke up, just in time to go to a prayer meeting, at which Freddy had prepared another type of tea to which he promised would clean me out. He also jokingly said I would wake up knowing perfect Spanish, which further caused me to wonder at the contents.
While making some toast for dinner (which just so happened to be the same meal I had had for breakfast and lunch as well) I remembered that we had some wine in the fridge that had been accidentally purchased for communion one night by a person who didn’t know there should be a difference. Fed up of the piercing stomach pains and recalling Paul’s advise to Timothy I decided to take it literally and give it a shot (no pun intended).
1 Timothy 5:23 NKJV
No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.
The fact that Timothy was abstaining from drinking wine and had only been drinking water implies that this practice is the rule for elders, with rare exceptions. Still though I was willing to put the word to the literal test. Being that I just did it ill let you know if it helped or not.
James 1:2-4 NKJV
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Just like my traveler’s runs would produce greater immunity strength in the present, so would trials and testing grow my faith and produce patients. The word for patients in the Greek is Hupomone, and strong’s defines it as;
1. steadfastness, constancy, endurance
a. in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
b. patiently, and steadfastly
2. a patient, steadfast waiting for
3. a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance.
So going through trials grows your faith in such a way that endurance and loyalty to God is steadfastly birthed. A faith that says “God got me through this last time and He can do it again”. The faith of David to fight Goliath was birthed in his battles against wolves, lions and bears; the Lord had delivered him from them, what could one Philistine accomplish that a lion could not?
1 Peter 4:12-14 NKJV
Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.
As you can see above we are not to rejoice in when we suffer due to our own wrong doing, although God can still teach a repentant heart through his failures, but the calling to rejoice is for those who have suffered due to directly obeying the will of God. It is to them that know the suffering of obedience which also have a greater understanding of Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-9 NKJV
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.
So you see we are to rejoice in trials, not rejoice about the trial but rejoice in the trial knowing what it will produce for you, a greater faith, faith that perseveres on to greater and bigger conquest for the Kingdom of God. A faith that is much more refined for the coming of the Lord, a perfect faith that will have no doubt in its assurance of salvation at the return of the Lord.