Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Beauty of Suffering and Sorrow

Just got back from an INCREDIBLE sermon at church by Dudley Hall. (I'll post the link on here when it comes up. ) He spoke about suffering, and I think that this year more than ever I have been challenged about my beliefs on this topic. I was led to ponder about whether or not God desires us to suffer and go through sorrows. There is the view that as a father you don't want your child to suffer, but as I look at my own life...I believe that a good father allows the suffering and sorrow because he understands that through hardship comes character.

Dudley absolutely nailed it when he said that yes, God can bless us with healing and an easy life, but "in our weakness, God heals something greater." God could bless us with healing or material things, but he sees the greater blessing that comes from suffering and sorrow: a changed heart. And it all comes down to this: God's will is always to bring more Christ into you.

As much as I would love blessings of all kinds, I realize that this type of life would teach me absolutely nothing. I wouldn't even have to trust God if he gave me the blessings I want. It doesn't mean he hasn't blessed me abundantly already or will give me blessings in the future, but it makes me ask myself, "Do I want the temporary material blessings of this life? or do I want the eternal blessings of a Christ-like character and eternal rewards?" Because if I want the eternal's going to take a price.

There is such a deep deep beauty to suffering and sorrow that the Lord has only begun to open my eyes to. For most of my life I have struggled with chronic stomach pain...and you know what...I can actually say that I would not trade that pain and brokenness for anything. My life has been a journey of me learning the meaning of James 1:2-4,

"Count it all joy my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." 

When your heart gets to that place of sorrow and pain...something in you dies, your flesh. When you hurt, nothing in the flesh soothes the pain. This opens the door to your spirit and that is when you begin to think of higher things. And when you search and start asking eternal questions... that's when Someone shows up. Jesus Christ. He can answer it all.

He can tell you that your partners in this life, Sorrow and Suffering, have been chosen to be your guides to the High Places. If you have no sorrow or suffering, you will never learn to trust God's plan, lean upon His love, see the vanity of this world, listen to the Holy will never look like Christ.

There is beauty my sweet friend in that place where you realize Jesus Christ is a comforter, a hope. Where he comes to your bedside on those nights you can hardly breathe because the pain is so real, and he takes hold of your hand and sings over you the truths of our Heavenly Father.

A healthy saint does not choose suffering, but when it does come, when sorrow and suffering does come, it is then that a saint can begin to rejoice because they know that God is about to shift something in the depths of their heart. He is beginning to refine something and change your reflection to be more like Christ's.

I am able to rejoice in the days I feel like weeping, in the times I need relief from pain, in the times I feel hopeless. I can rejoice because I know that Jesus Christ is drawing even closer to my soul, that I have been chosen to refine and purify. I can rejoice because in the times of pain my flesh seems so worthless and my spirit comes alive. My mind is opened to God's thoughts and my ears open to hear His Truth.

Oh amen, amen, amen! God let us rejoice in these trials. Let us see the incredible beauty of our sorrows and sufferings. Let us count it ALL joy when we encounter trials because we can truly understand that something in us is about to shift for the greater! Instead of settling for our simple-minded requests you see something greater that you can give us. And though that something greater comes through the hardest trials...we long for it Lord. We long for the eternal blessings of a changed soul, an awakened spirit within us. Oh sweet Jesus! What an incredible gift to suffer like you did! What an incredible gift to learn the lessons that will make us more like you! Thank you Jesus that it is nothing we can or will do, but rather it all rests upon the grace of You, our good gracious Father who reigns in wisdom and sovereignty. Thank you Lord for bringing Heaven to earth, for bringing the Perfect Son of Man into the life of this unworthy sinner.

"For I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am in. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11-13

This contentment is something learned. But the beauty of it is that we don't have to strive to learn it. God gives us, in his grace, the gift of learning it. Ask God to teach this lesson to you, to help  you learn it. Then you will be able to face the sorrow and suffering with joy because you know that God will bring you through it to a greater glory (Romans 8:18). He will walk along with us, and turn our sorrow and suffering to Grace and Glory. Amen.

1 comment:

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