My feelings went rogue this week. I even found myself repeating in my head all the things I know to be good and true and helpful…they just feel on a hard heart. I am going to unpack this a little more in the upcoming weeks, even give more explanation as to why my week was so hard, but in the meantime ironically this week I was going to touch on suffering. You gotta love it when that happens. “Oh its time to teach a class on suffering and write a post on trials of many kinds so let the bad times roll” So sad. So true.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2
“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…” Romans 5:2-5
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10
I can promise you, these verses, these callings, these truths that God has given over our lives if we choose them…they are quite opposite of the human condition. When suffering comes, it hurts. When trials stir, we want to run. When weaknesses threaten, I want to bolster up underneath of them and prove strong. In my humanness I don’t want to consider it pure joy, I don’t have the endurance to persevere, and delighting in anything feels like a thing of the past.
That is how my body wants to respond.
That is how my emotions prompt me.
Sometimes sulking ensues, maybe even temper tantrums.
But when the dust settles, at the end of day, I have a choice to make. Do I choose to take the Bible as true? Do I choose to trust that in Scripture is a code to uncrack the paths of this life? If the answer is yes, then there is hope to be gained even in the middle of the worst times of life.
I am pretty convinced that joy and delighting doesn’t come on the first day a trial hits. There is shock, anger, awe, crying out, frustration and joy and delight don’t seem to fit in well. But even on that day, in the back of my mind there is a semblance of peace in knowing that joy will come again and strength will come out of the ashes. Its not a feeling, its a knowing, it is a believing. And on the worst days when fears and panic come, when sadness settles in again, or the pain hasn’t gone away I have to remember what I really believe to be true.
I was not kidding when I told you that I am mostly talking to myself this week. I’ve struggled with the practicality of this topic and these verses. How is this supposed to help me in my suffering or fear of suffering? The help is there. Let me show you…
Consider it…it doesn’t say feel it or like or want it. Consider it pure joy. Think on it, pray on it, fight with it until the joy surfaces.
Develops…it doesn’t say appears, or just happens, or just is. It says faith with develop perseverance. Its a process, its a work in progress over time.
Because we know…it doesn’t say because we think, or might, or maybe. Because we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it will produce a good work in us.
Does not disappoint…at the end of it all, we will look back and we will not be disappointed. There is hope in that statement.
For Christ’s sake…it is not for my sake. It is for Christ’s sake so that He may be glorified.
When I am weak…not if I am weak, but when. Together we can stand knowing we all find weakness and it is then, that Christ is made most strong in us.
I know for me, sometimes, I need to remember that this life of mine is built on solid rock. And that when nothing else seems to be reliable, including my own mind and body, that there is something out there that will never steer me wrong.
Before I started writing tonight I watched my little Gideon video. The one with the song and pictures. I needed to be reminded, not only of my little man but also of the complete peace in my eyes. It was a peace that is not of this world and it was mine because I couldn’t survive without it. To me those pictures are living breathing examples that these verses are true. I had wrestled, I had writhed until finally I gave it all over…then in flooded the delight and joy. How funny it is that this is not a one time action, it is a constant recurrence.
For you, for us, my prayer continues to be that truths and life’s proof would help us find purpose in not fearing the pain. That if we believe…then what is there to fear?