The Gift of Suffering
I actually have two other posts queued up, but this is the one I'm supposed to write. Really, who wants to write about suffering let alone read about it? And yet, I find that I am attracted to these books. Or they manage to make their way into my hands. It seems that like follows like. Like Noah's Ark. Two by two. Ever notice how when you enter a room you make a beeline for the one who is most like you? Or going through something similar? Good or bad. We tend to hang out with like-minded people. It seems, that in my circle of influence I gravitate toward the ones who are in the trenches. I want to see how they're doing. How I can pray for them. Any new developments on their path of suffering. That may seem morbid to some folks, but to me it is a healing balm. It makes this journey not so lonely. For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.
Philippians 1:29 I have been told by a few people that I must be very special to God because He is allowing me to suffer. It is a special gift given to those that are close to His heart. When I heard this for the first time, I did not know what to say. I always think of myself as God's favorite - you know the one who gets to sit on His lap. But to think that this suffering is a gift? THAT is hard to let sink in. I have struggled with this thought for 30 months. How can suffering be a gift? When I think of gifts, I think of little boxes. Big boxes with bows. I think of handmade gifts made with love. But suffering??? Pain? Agony? Dying? Persecution? In my mind, they are quite the opposite of gifts.
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
1 Corinthians 1:12 What I read here is the word UNDERSTAND. This word in the Greek is eido and it has many meanings: to see, know, perceive with the eye, discern, discover, know, understand, examine, inspect, to name a few. It is used over 650 times in the New Testament. Well, if I want to discover what suffering is, I need to know what Philippians is saying. That word suffering in the Greek is "paskho". It has a wide range of meanings from good to bad: to be affected, to undergo, to suffer sadly, be in a bad plight, to be well off, to be afflicted. So to put it together, the Spirit will help me as I discover why I have been afflicted. He will help me examine why I am well off. When you put it like that, I can see the suffering as a gift. It seems as if there is room for digging deep. I like to get to the bottom of things. Put everything on the table. I like to know my options. Well, I just listed some options. I can tell you that there are days when this affliction feels like a gift. I feel so close to God. His revelations in Scripture to me are so profound. My prayer time and worship is so moving and real. Opportunities to minister are abundant. But then, there are days when I feel like I am in a bad plight. I'm hurting, feel so alone, forgotten, I feel God's silence pressing in on me, nothing looks right, everything goes wrong. Honestly there are days when all I want to do is crawl in a hole. But it is here, precisely here, that I dig deep. I have the time. I'm in pain, miserable and alone and not wanting to do anything other than be. I usually don't even read (my absolute favorite thing to do). I just am still. It is here that I have found my Suffering Saviour. It is here that I begin to discover what He has for me. I find myself praying - not that really, it's talking and listening, to my beloved YAHWEH. It is here that I found purpose in the suffering. Such a closeness to Jesus that I never, ever thought possible. I am beginning to realize that God had this in mind all along. A deeper and more profound relationship with me. Am I willing to let God have His way with me? If suffering brings me closer to Him, then yes. I want EVERYTHING He has for me. Every gift, every blessing, everything. But most of all I want Him. I think He knew that.