Glory in Suffering

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I'm a private person. Surprising, I know. I share when necessary but truthfully I don't talk a lot about what goes on in my heart and in my mind. Those thoughts and feelings are saved for certain people and God; and only come after trust is built (well not with God because I trust Him completely).

But lately I've been suffering. I lost my job at the beginning of January, then within two weeks the engine in my van broke; the job that I was supposed to get (it was a waitress job) seems to have fallen through and despite my relentless pursuit of a job I haven't gotten one call back.

I don't know how I'm going to pay February's rent.

I don't know how I can pay my bills when what I take in (my only income currently is child support) is far substantially less than what I have to put out.

But the Bible does not hesitate to describe the human condition and the reality of living in a sinful world. Suffering is an inescapable part of that reality. And I'm constantly reminding myself that someone is suffering far greater than I am. Ecclesiastes teaches, "For in much wisdom is much grief, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow." (Eccl. 1:18)

No one is immune from suffering. Not you, not me, not the president. Suffering may come as a result of a person's sin and failure. For example, some people may suffer financially by not carefully budgeting their money or being wasteful. However, suffering may also arise due to other people's sin and failure or other forces outside of our control. An example of this is a drunk driver who causes an accident creating suffering for others.

We know that people suffer - we see it or experience it every day. "We also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." (Rom. 8:23) Suffering is common to all people and is not removed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Being a Christian is a not a "get out of suffering free" card. I am a living testiment of this. Literally I have felt like I have poison in my blood and that everything I touch becomes tainted or of no value or just simply, poisoned. This however is a mistruth because Christians experience suffering like everyone else. No better illustration of this principle can be found but with Job!

Satan complained to God that Job, a righteous man, served God only because his life was relatively free of suffering. A wager was made and with God's consent the course of Job's suffering increased. With the increased suffering came Job's increased questions and struggles with God. His demand for a hearing concerning his questions grew to such a tempo that God deepened jobs suffering by bringing his soul low with humility. In that suffering, Job found that his deepest desire was not for relief, but that what he wanted more than anything was the presence of God. Suffering awakened him to a deeper desire for God.

This is exactly what has happened to me over the course of my entire life. Real talk; my life has never been easy. The moment I think I have found something wonderful or great it disappears or walks out and then half the time I am blamed for the demise or the outcome.

Human suffering aroused my anger, invigorated my action and as a result enabled me to push back  the darkness of the fall. Suffering really humanizes me and my heart and increases my hunger for God and His presence.

So today, it was rough. I suffered. I didn't talk about my feelings to anyone and I wrote them out in my journal. I realized by the end that I was writing specifically to Jesus and was groaning and crying out for HIM.

My situation could be worse. I could be homeless. My children could be ill. But none of this has happened. So I will, walk humbly in the suffering, and trust that this is just for a season. And that in this grief I am gaining wisdom and that with all the knowledge I gain more sorrow will follow. I will also hold firm to the truth that I am not flowing with poison. That I am full of the Spirit of God which is exactly the opposite; it gives life.

Today, know that God is bigger than your suffering.

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