A Word on Suffering

Today I was listening to Christian radio and heard theses words by Oswald Chambers regarding suffering:

{Rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings. —1 Peter 4:13}

“If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come across.”

Although I think that somewhere deep in my soul, I knew this, and I am pretty sure that at some point or another, other people have said this to me, today was the day that I was ready to understand it and accept it.  Maybe my heart was finally ready or maybe Chambers’ phrasing was perfect.  But it gave me so much peace!

I tend to respond to difficulties in a few different ways and often I fluctuate in my responses to the same situation.  One moment I suffer in self-pity.  I wonder why God has put this difficulty on me and why others seem to sail through life without the same issue.  In other words, I am grumbling about a painful thorn in my side and doubting that God’s grace is actually sufficient.

Another moment, the perfectionist pleaser in me wonders what it is that I need to learn.  Surely God gave me this heartache to teach me something!  Is there some sin in my life that I haven’t dealt with?  Am I prideful?  Am I lacking in faith?  The words of Job’s friends echo in my own soul and I condemn myself of hidden iniquities.

There are times I resign myself to a sort of acceptance where I figure God wants to be glorified through this hard thing. How can I respond in a way that glorifies Him?  Joy in the sorrow?  Praise in the storm?

But all three of my responses are about ME.  —-YUCK!  When I realized this, I was overcome with repulsion and shame.  Chambers points out that many of the hard things that I go through aren’t about me!!!!!  They’re not even about how I can glorify Him (after all, even that is about me and my response).  In fact, the hardships and heartaches that I have experienced have given me a depth of empathy for those around me who hurt.

When a broken woman tells me she has had a miscarriage, I know what comfort it brings to have another woman whisper, “I have lost little ones, too.”

When a beautiful sister in Christ tells me she is struggling with a dark depression, I offer prayers and phone calls from someone who understands that sometimes there is nothing we can do about the darkness but cling to a loving God.

Just recently a precious friend and her two precious little ones had a stomach virus and then a terrible flu– back to back. One after the other.  Bless their hearts…..I nearly cried remembering the winter that I had two little ones (one still nursing, just like my friend’s baby) and we fought off illnesses and viruses non-stop.  I remember lying in bed and wondering if I was dead or alive.  I remembered my own moments and so I remembered to check up on my friend, brought soup to her door step (I love her but I was NOT going in there!), prayed faithfully, and offered sympathy.  I wouldn’t have known how much those things meant if I hadn’t had my own days of being a sick mama to sick babies.

God does not want us to be put off by the hard things in this life.  In other’s lives or our own.  There is sin and horribleness all around in our broken world. We shouldn’t try to run from it.  It may not be possible to embrace it, but to know that if God allows me to go through it, I must not worry so much about the “me” part as much as the “God” part.  It still hurts; I will still probably struggle through stages of my sinful reactions, but at the end (or in the midst) of the battle, may I be used.

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