So many times people who are unbelievers tend to think that somehow if/when you ever DO become a Christian (as if it’s our choice anyway!), that we then must have it sorted, and that God looks on us so favourably in comparison to the rest of humanity, that we shouldn’t ever complain about anything. And sometimes it then comes as a shock to many, and even those who’ve been Christians for some time, that we Christians are actually called to suffer MORE than others precisely because we DO know God personally, and it can often be primarily through our suffering that He reveals Himself to others. You only have to look at the beginnings of our faith to appreciate that. While we may perhaps errantly feel that Jesus’ suffering was different because He was God as well as human, and that somehow perhaps He didn’t truly suffer as we are led to believe, my view is that we actually have absolutely NO concept on the reality of His suffering in any sense. We only look at the physical aspect of it, but even that is ginormous – how do you ever get your head round the concept of GOD allowing his creation to lift a finger against Him let alone all that the people of that day did do to Him. To contemplate the fact that He created these people and sustained them by His thought/Will, yet instead of destroying them for their arrogance and hatred, He keeps quiet and doesn’t protest about His Divine Rights because He knows that this is what He was called to do. And if that physical suffering wasn’t enough, how do you then get your head round the fact that at some point during His dying/death He was utterly rejected by His Father – the One Whom He’d shared eternity past with, and knew more intimately than we’ve any concept of, and in Whom He too depended on at that point for dealing with all the horrors of what He was going through physically in His suffering. And then you look at His apostles/disciples, each of whom went from being minimal believers, to suddenly taking on the world to proclaim the Gospel message – and how they equally suffered for it. And their suffering was equally horrendous at times.
Which brings me back to myself. I’m currently still going through what I consider to be a very tough time physically – with more pain than I’ve ever had to endure in my life, with NO pain relief which is new for me. Previously, while I may have had comparable pain it’s always been treatable, albeit sometimes with very strong drugs, but treatable nonetheless. This time, none of the drugs are helping, and so I have continuous nights when my brain is assaulted by the most intense horrific pain I’ve ever experienced. But perhaps because I have no other source of help this time round, I’m truly leaning on the Lord for some knowledge of His Will in all of this. And He is teaching me SO many lessons – not just on suffering, but on trust, patience and His Grace etc. I’m slowly (oh so slowly), learning to praise rather than complain, to listen rather than speak, to look to Him rather than man for solutions etc. And it’s so true what He says – His Grace IS sufficient for me in all my needs. While this may be a tough time, it’s not overwhelming (although sometimes I feel it is at 4 in the morning!), and I am coping surprisingly well despite the lack of sleep most nights. I’ve listened to a lot of sermons on the topics of healing and trials etc, and have been blessed by a couple in particular.
One was by Drew Ray with a topic aptly titled “Lessons from the storms of life” and you can listen to it here – http://www.learnthebible.org/o-s-lessons-from-the-storms-of-life.htm. He talked about how when the disciples were out in the boat with Jesus (who was asleep) on the Sea of Gallilee , and the storm erupted, they initially attempted to deal with the situation themselves, all the while panicking, until eventually after a while, fear overtook them enough for them to rouse Him begging Him to help. Jesus used this opportunity to reveal His power and nature to them, but He could just as easily have calmed the storm at any point on His own had he determined to do so, yet He didn’t. The point was made that they had to ask Him for His help, in order for the lesson to be all the more relevant to them – that only when they were really ready for Him to intervene was He going to do so, and in that instance make a much bigger impact on them than might have otherwise been the case. And that holds for us too – until we’re in a tough enough place to beg Him to help us, and especially when we recognise that we can’t sort out the problem ourselves (which sometimes takes us a lonnnggg time!) He won’t act to change our circumstances.
Another telling sermon was one I listened to just an hour ago from Sermon Audio – this one by a Dr. Greg Mazak – http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=4170494549 who talked about how to deal with tough times and trials that come into our life by His Hand. How it can be hard to accept that it is His Will for such calamities to strike us for starters, but how He is sovereign, and is absolutely in control teaching us to endure all things patiently so that we might be perfected in the faith. The teaching is based on James 1 – 2-4:
James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Again, this one spoke heavily to me, and I feel is a teaching I can certainly hold to because once more it confirms how sinful it is to desire the trial to be removed, rather than the lessons to be learnt through it. Ultimately no matter how tough I feel this is for me to endure, it’s nothing in comparison to what many are going through right this minute in the Persecuted Church worldwide – so I give thanks to God for His Grace, Mercy and Love that enables me to indeed be joyful in all my circumstances – to His Glory alone.