Endurance and Rejoicing in Suffering
2 September 2013
I'm about one-third of the way through an astounding, life-changing book called Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven by Josef (Iosif) Ton.

Based upon what I have been learning so far in Mr. Ton's book, two parables came into my mind this morning. I believe that they will really help you understand what the New Testament teaches about endurance and rejoicing in suffering.

Imagine that on the first day of every month, a stranger comes up to you and gives you a forceful slap on the cheek, the pain of which lingers for two or three hours before finally fading away. After the first few months, you realize that it always happens at work, so the following first day of the month you call in sick, but the stranger — a different person each time — slaps you at home. After a couple of months of that, you decided to go shopping on the first, but the stranger find and slaps you there. One month you go on a European vacation, but even there you are found and slapped, the same as always.

Even though the pain of the slap is relatively short-lived, the dread and fear of the monthly slap begins to consume more and more of your thoughts and emotions. By the end of a year, all of your waking thoughts are filled with terror of the coming first-of-the-month encounter when you will be painfully slapped once again. In despair, you realize that the only way out of this unendurable misery is either murder or suicide — both of which are against God's laws.

So, after a year, when you are doing your federal taxes, you examine a bank statement for your retirement account, which you never pay attention to because, as a twenty-something, that stage of life seems so very remote. As you look at the statement, you are astonished to find that on the first day of each month, a mysterious $5,000 is deposited into your retirement account! And the first such deposit was a year ago, on the very first day that you were ever slapped by the strangers!

Then it dawns on you: you are somehow being "compensated" or "rewarded" for the painful slap you are enduring each month! And such a large amount of money, accumulated over decades of months, means that you will be able to enjoy a long and pleasurable retirement! Your mind starts to do the math, and the result is astounding!

At this point, your perspective makes a radical and dramatic shift. A few hours of pain in exchange for $5,000, and the prospect of a luxurious retirement in "paradise." That not only makes it worthwhile, but it actually makes it a bargain — a better deal than you could get anywhere else on earth! There exists NO other investment with THAT kind of return!!!

Now, not only is the fear and dread of the next first of the month totally gone, in its place is actually an excitement and anticipation. Oh sure, the slap is still very painful for a few hours, but with each slap you hear the ka-ching of 5,000 more dollars dropping into your retirement account. So every time you are slapped, you thank and praise God for counting you worthy to get in on this incredible get-rich scheme that is most definitely NOT a scam!

It seems too good to be true, but that's the way God's economy works. If only everybody knew about this awesome deal....

Now imagine a world in which God says it's a sin to eat ice cream. Of course, being born as a pagan to pagan parents, you grew up into adulthood eating as much ice cream as you wanted, whenever you wanted. But once you became a follower of Yeshua (Isa, Jesus), you found, to your horror, that eating ice cream is forbidden! How will you possibly survive without that delight?

So, using all of your will power and best efforts to be a good and faithful Christian, you firmly resist the temptation to eat ice cream, even though the thought of that cold, silky substance sliding down to your stomach torments your thoughts each day. And as the days go by, it becomes harder and harder to resist your whole being screaming for ice cream!

When you feel that you can endure the suffering of resistance no longer, you finally give in and scoop yourself a nice bowl of ice cream. It tastes even better than you remembered, and after you have finished the last truly scrumptious spoonful, the glowing memory of the pleasure it gave you lasts for another hour or so before fading away.

After some weeks you start to notice a pattern: you always give in to your ice cream craving on Friday evenings, after a long hard week at work. Your will power and good intentions are often not enough to overcome the strength of the temptation, so you generally give in — but not always. Some Fridays you are able to resist, even though you usually "make up" for it by having twice as much the following Friday! Although it fills you with guilt and shame to be so weak, and to disappoint and disobey God so frequently, you just can't find the inner strength to stop.

One day, your quarterly retirement account statement arrives from the bank. Looking it over, you are shocked and puzzled to see some random $1,000 deposits. Consulting a calendar, you are intrigued to discover that the deposits are always on Fridays, but not every week. After checking through your journal, in which you faithfully record each miserable ice-cream failure, you are astounded to discover that the deposits were made on the Fridays when you successfully resisted temptation and did not eat ice cream!

Then it hits you: rather than perhaps only $1,000 per month added to your retirement account when you occasionally resist temptation, you could have $4,000 to $5,000 per month if you refrained from eating ice cream every Friday (and every other day too!). Now that is easy money!

As you think it through, you realize that there is really little choice between the two alternatives: either a few minutes of pleasure eating the forbidden ice cream, and perhaps an hour of good memories afterwards (mixed with guilt and shame), or else a fortune which will enable a long, pleasurable, luxurious retirement in "paradise." In the light of logic and common sense, what choice IS there, really?

So every time you are tempted to eat ice cream, you now have the will power to resist. To be sure, the pain of resistance has not disappeared. And sometimes, but less and less frequently, you do still give in — at which times there is the total silence of no money being added to your account. But each time you resist the temptation, you hear the ka-ching of 1,000 more dollars dropping into your retirement account. So every time you refrain from eating ice cream, you thank and praise God for counting you worthy to get in on this incredible get-rich scheme that is most definitely NOT a scam!

It seems too good to be true, but that's the way God's economy works. If only everybody knew about this awesome deal....

These two parables graphically illustrate what the New Testament teaches about sin, suffering and eternal rewards. Where in the New Testament? It is so prevalent that you just need to read the whole thing, keeping your eyes open for these principles. You will be astonished to see how often they are repeated, and like me, you will wonder, "Why have I never seen these things before, even though I have read the New Testament many times?"

To dig deeper into the "whys" and "hows" of all this, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of Suffering, Martyrdom, and Rewards in Heaven — it could easily be the most important book you will ever read, and the most vital to affect your eternal destiny! All this for only $15 — you can't afford NOT to get this book!