Monday, July 27, 2020

Yes to Suffering

These past four months have been a study of suffering for me.

A lot of light; a lot of dark. A lot of beauty; a lot of pain.

And a WHOLE lot of God, my Father meeting me in those places. Any picture I take right now feels like He's right there with me...maybe beside me, maybe taking the photo! Do you see him?!

It's honestly been a beautiful season of living inside several passages of Scripture.

2 Corinthians 3:18: "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image...".

1 Peter 4:12-13: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."

A part of me has wanted to downplay this suffering, because it's "just" physical (I've had pain in my body for four months). I'm not being persecuted for my faith, living in poverty, or dealing with a life threatening disease. But as I've been walking through this time I've realized there are different types of sufferings, and different seasons of life where you experience it, and that there is no comparing "sufferings".

I read an article that talked about ten different types of biblical suffering: Creation, Grief, Consequential, Victim, Empathetic, Collective, Preventative/Discipline, Holiness, Opposition, and Missional. Of course that's not a comprehensive list, but it does put suffering into some categories.

These categories help me with understanding that there are different types, with each one having its own way in our lives, and potentially, purpose, if we're willing.

While I am starting to feel better physically, I'm still pressing in to all that God has for me during this season of suffering. It's not been easy, but I am growing to know Jesus in ways I've never known before, and wouldn't trade this season for anything. I know him more deeply as the most powerful One, who is graciously, kindly, lovingly, tenderly and fiercely leading me nearer to Him.

One other thought about this as I've contemplated suffering. Someone I read gave this definition.

How do you know if you are suffering? Simple. Just ask “is this a trial? Is this something that can tempt me to discouragement? Is this frustrating?” Anything that feels like a trial is a trial. Anything that can tempt you to discouragement and complaining is a trial. Your faith is being tested in the small things as well as the big. Small things are real forms of suffering.

We all experience suffering on some level; we can receive it and go through it for whatever purposes God has in it for us. Or we can push it away, downplay it, make light of it, reject it or even become bitter from it. 

I am definitely choosing the first option! I want HIS way!!

One of my great heart desires is this: To "...know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." 1 John 5:20

This is the Gospel! And this is eternal life: to grow in knowing God, till the end of our lives, into eternity. 

If suffering is how I get to know Him more, I'm saying "yes" to it.

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