Tuesday, November 6, 2001
When our son was playing high school football, he looked like the tattooed man at the circus, with bruises all over his body. He always dreamed of playing football. And he had his dream, but he paid a price. As soon as practices started in August, the coaches had those players running 'til they almost dropped, and hitting, and tackling, and straining, and sweating. Some guys quit because it was just too much. Finally, the season began - and his team started winning - a lot. I remember one incredibly rowdy victory celebration on the bus home after they had managed this 20-0 shutout. He had weighed the pain of playing against the pleasure. What he concluded may help you weigh yours.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "The Payoff For The Pain."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Romans 8:17-18 - written by a man with plenty of bruises for taking his stand. But when he weighs the pain of his commitment against the pleasure of the payoff, there's no comparison. Paul say, "We are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."
Now that was the conclusion of spiritual warrior Paul. Now here's what our football player concluded when he weighed the pain against the payoff. He told me, "Dad, the feeling of victory is worth all those hours of practice. You didn't think so when you're slugging it out in practice, but it is." Same conclusion. The victory more than makes the pain worth it. But there is one major difference between his equation of football-suffering and Paul's equation of suffering for Christ.
Our son said, "Unfortunately, the pleasure of winning doesn't last very long." That was true--15 hours of practice a week for a few hours of joy. But when it comes to the pain-and-victory comparison in Christ, the opposite is true. Paul said any hurt we have here is like minutes compared to the forever celebration of victory we're going to enjoy.
But right now you're in practice, and you don't feel very victorious. It hurts. You're under a lot of pressure; you're trying to do what's right but it doesn't seem to be working. And maybe God has trusted you with the assignment to show His joy and His love in the midst of physical suffering. Or perhaps you're paying a price for the stand you're taking. It's tempting to compromise, to back off, maybe to give in to despair, or even to quit.
Remember, God will record your faithfulness so He can reward your faithfulness 100 times over! If you decide what to do based on comfort or convenience, you will never know the thrill of ultimate victory.
Our son said the suffering was "worth it all." Those words make me think of the values-clarifying words of a great old hymn. "It will be worth it all when we see Jesus. One glimpse of His dear face, all sorrow will erase. So gladly run the race 'till we see Christ."
That kind of outlook enabled the Apostle Paul to have a very different perspective on his hurts. He says in Romans 8:31, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" And then in verse 37, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us!"
So take the hits that you're getting in practice right now. The victory will be so glorious you will soon forget the wounds. Don't quit now. The practice is just a little while - the party is forever!