The Blessings of Sufferings (Part 1)

The Blessings of Sufferings (Part 1)

After an illustrious thirty-four year career in fire service, Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was terminated from his position, after it was discovered that he had written—on his own time—a book for a men’s Bible study in which he affirmed Biblical marriage and Biblical sexuality. Chief Cochran sued the city of Atlanta for violating his civil liberties, and in 2018, he won a major settlement.

NC Family was pleased to welcome Chief Cochran as our keynote speaker to our Winston-Salem Dinner on November 7, 2019. We feature an excerpt from that address on this week’s episode of the Family Policy Matters radio show and podcast, in Part 1 of a 2-Part series.

God always prepares his sons and daughters for sufferings,” shares Cochran. “But there are worldly consequences for standing on Biblical Truth and standing for Christ.”

For Chief Cochran, his worldly consequence was losing his job. For others, especially Christians in other nations, it may be losing their life. But Cochran reminds us, “God used many in his Word to show that whenever you lose something standing on Him, He’ll restore it one hundredfold.”

“When we have the courage and faith to stand, our enemies get to see a side of God that they would have never seen if we had not stood.”

Tune in to Family Policy Matters this week to hear Chief Kelvin Cochran share more of his story and what he has learned through the sufferings in his life! Be sure to tune in next week for Part 2!

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Family Policy Matters
Transcript: The Blessings of Sufferings (Part 1)

KELVIN COCHRAN:

When I was serving as Fire Chief in Shreveport, Louisiana, in the early 2000’s, I was going through a series of personal and professional challenges and I sought God for answers. It was at that time that God led me to do a word study on the word “sufferings” in the early 2000’s. Sufferings, brothers and sisters, sometimes they come sequentially. And you don’t have to be old to go through sufferings; even youth and children experience sufferings. Sometimes sufferings come sequentially. You have a type of a suffering, you have a period of deliverance and peace and there, lo and behold, here comes another type of suffering. But sometimes sufferings come simultaneously whereby we are going through two or three or more at the same time.

That’s what I was experiencing in the early 2000’s when God led me to study sufferings in the Bible. When I searched the scriptures about suffering, this is what I learned: when we see words in the Old and New Testament like afflictions, trials, tribulation, tests, trouble, persecution, chastisement, temptations, and infirmities, they are all types of sufferings. They all fall on the primary heading of sufferings. So I’ve wanted to look at men and women in the Bible who had experienced sufferings in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Well two categories emerged: there are self-inflicted sufferings, and there are God-allowed suffering. And they’re pretty much self-explanatory. The self-inflicted sufferings are the trials, tribulations, afflictions, tests, trouble, persecution, chastisement, temptation, infirmities, that we bring on ourselves because of our own bad choices. But sometimes we go through afflictions, trials, tribulation, tests, trouble, persecution, chastisement, persecution, infirmities, and it has nothing to do with what we’ve done. But God in his sovereignty has chosen to allow us to go through those things.

So it’s throughout our lives that we experience one type of suffering or another. It is because of sufferings—this is my personal testimony—that I have spiritually matured and developed as a disciple of Christ. The sufferings in my life have matured me as a disciple of Jesus Christ. And if I can be transparent just for a moment, out of the two categories of self-inflicted and God-allowed suffering, most of the sufferings that I’ve experienced in my life fall in the self-inflicted suffering category. Is there anybody in the room besides me with that testimony? I think that’s most of us; if we’re honest about it, that’s what we would say.

Sufferings over the years, listen, has a way of stripping off and pruning off promiscuous ways, bad habits, and bad relationships that will keep us from achieving our destiny. And I’ve had my share of self-inflicted sufferings, but experienced firsthand that blessed promise that where sin abounds, Grace does much more abound. Here’s where I’m going with that: when I was terminated in 2015, because of my track record with self-inflicted sufferings, the first thing that came to my mind was, “God is punishing me again. God is punishing me again.” Or, this crossed my mind: “I did something years ago that God chastised me for. He thought about it recently and thought, ‘I didn’t give that boy enough, so I gotta give him some more.’” You know, we think like that. And then God quickly said, “Listen, this is not self-inflicted suffering. This has nothing to do with you. This is God-allowed sufferings.”

Here’s the shouting part: when you’re a child of God, it doesn’t matter whether your sufferings are self-inflicted sufferings or God-allowed sufferings; all of our sufferings are under the sovereign supervision of God, and he’s gonna eventually work them together for our good, for His Glory. Can I get an amen to that? So God said to me, “This is God-allowed, not self-inflicted, and you’re in pretty good company, Kelvin. You’re in pretty good company.” And so he reminded me of people’s lives that I looked at back then. Job is a good example of how God works in the life of a son of God that experiences God-allowed suffering. Esther is a good example of how God works in a daughter of God who’s experiencing God-allowed suffering. And God showed me that “I have a history in my Word of how I deal with the lives of my sons and daughters in God-allowed sufferings. I am God. I don’t change at all. The God I was for Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel as government employees, I’m the same God and what I did in their life, I’m going to do it in your life as well.”

And so God revealed to me that there are five things that His sons and daughters need to know when their day comes. Not if your day is gonna come; when your day is going to come. Here are those five things God taught me to teach to you, or share with you.

Number one: God always prepares his sons and daughters for suffering. He always prepares us for sufferings. Whenever we experience suffering, we should come to this conclusion: God in his own sovereignty felt that I was prepared to go through what I’m going through. He always prepares us.

Number two is the toughest of the five lessons: there are worldly consequences for standing on Biblical Truth and standing for Christ. Can I give you a few examples of our brothers and sisters in foreign countries?

About five years ago, 21 Christian men in Egypt were captured by ISIS. ISIS told these 21 Christian brothers, “You’re all gonna die. The only way you get to live is to reject your faith in Jesus Christ.” All 21 refused to reject their faith in Jesus Christ, and their heads were cut off. In that same era in Afghanistan, in villages where Christian families were known to live, the Taliban would search the neighborhood to find Christian families. They’d mark their doors with this symbol. Sooner or later, someone would come back to the house, they’d pull the family in a room and speak directly to the dad. They would speak directly to the dad and tell them, “Your children are going to die. The only way your children get to live is for you to reject your faith in Jesus Christ.” There’s not a single case on record where one of those Christian dads in Afghanistan rejected Jesus Christ. Guess what happened? Their precious children were killed on the spot.

A little while after that, in Northern Kenya, on a college campus where Christian and Muslim students were known to attend, a radical group of Islamists stormed the college campus, separated the Muslim students from the Christian students, and told the Christian students, “You’re all going to die. The only way you get to live is to reject Jesus Christ.” One hundred and twenty-five college kids refused to reject their faith in Jesus Christ, and they were gunned down on the spot because there are worldly consequences for standing on Biblical Truth, and standing for Christ.

In the United States of America, we’re not close to facing those kinds of consequences unless, as the body of Christ in the United States of America, we continue the trend of staying divided, passive and silent. If we continue the trend of staying, divided, passive, and silent, our grandchildren or great grandchildren could one day live in an America where if they have the courage to live out their faith, they could lose their precious lives. If we don’t do something in our generation.

And then here’s the other sad part: I believe that we’re not facing those kinds of consequences because God by His Grace knows we’re not prepared for those kinds of tests. Why would you say that, brother Kelvin? Because we reject Jesus Christ for far less.

We have elected officials who run saying, “I’m a Christian,” but when they get in the office they get addicted to the popularity, to all the things surrounding it. And when it comes to legislation that stands on Biblical values and Biblical Truth, they don’t stand because—not that they don’t want to lose their head or their kids—they don’t want to lose an election.

We have pastors in the United States of America, who will not preach Biblical Truth because they are afraid that there are some influential members in their congregation that could cause them to lose their church—not their head or their kids, their church. We have college kids in the United States of America who won’t stand on Biblical Truth in social relationships because they’re afraid, not that they’re going to be killed, but they’re going to lose a boyfriend or a girlfriend or be unfriended if they stand for Jesus Christ. God knows we’re not prepared for the tests in those examples that I just gave.

I asked God, I said, “God, I don’t know if I could have done that. Yeah, I lost my job, but I still have my head. I still have my children. I don’t know if I could have done what they did. How were they able to do that?” And it was so simple; I had been hearing it all my life. God spoke to me and said, “You know the answer.” He said, “They really believed, they really believed that to live is Christ and to die is gain.” They really believed that, and what that means, brothers and sisters, is they really believed that no matter how big the American dream is for you, there is nothing grander than sleeping in the bosom of Jesus. And if they get to go early, all the better. That’s why they are able to do what they’re able to do.

I told you the toughest of the five is number two: there are worldly consequences for standing on Biblical Truth and standing for Christ. It gets better. It gets better with number three.

Number three: there are kingdom consequences for standing on Biblical Truth and standing for Christ, and the kingdom consequences are always, always, always greater than the worldly consequences. They always are. Jesus said it this way, “Whatever you lose standing for me, I will restore it one hundredfold in this life with persecution, and after you die you’re going to get to go to heaven.” Jesus was not exaggerating; Jesus was not using hyperbole. Jesus meant that if you lose a house standing for me, I’ll give you a better house, a hundred times better than the house that you lost. If you lose a boyfriend or girlfriend standing for me, I’ll give you a boyfriend or girlfriend better than the boyfriend or girlfriend that you lost. Some guys who are Christian guys and some girls who are Christian girls are hanging on to the boogie man when God has in mind for them Superman! Because they’re just hanging onto someone who doesn’t believe in the values that we are embrace. Listen, God used many in his word to show that whenever you lose something standing on Him, He’ll restore it one hundredfold.

Number four: sufferings are always for the greater Glory of God. Sufferings are always for the greater Glory of God. I gotta give you a quick example. Remember Nebuchadnezzar, when he put Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace? He was so incensed about their confidence and faith in God, he says, “I’m gonna make sure these three boys die! Heat it up seven times hotter!” And so he anxiously looked in the furnace to see them burned alive, and then he had to clear his eye. He said, “Wait a minute, we put three in there. I see four and the fourth one looks like the Son of God!” Listen, what am I trying to say? When we have the courage and faith to stand, our enemies get to see a side of God that they would have never seen if we had not stood.

And then here’s the better part: we get to see a side of God that we would have never seen if we had not stood. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego got to see the Son of God before Mary had him in the manger. Isn’t that amazing? Listen, I was raised in church since I was a little boy. I’d heard all this stuff about how God comes through for his people when they’re in trouble, but even I have seen a side of God that I have never seen before—that I would have never seen had I not stood. I think it’s II Chronicles 16:9, “God searches over the whole earth looking for a heart that is fully His, so that He may strongly show His support on their behalf.”

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