“He comes to us in the brokenness of our health, in the shipwreck of our family lives, in the loss of all possible peace of mind, even in the very thick of our sins. He saves us in our disasters, not from them. He emphatically does not promise to meet only the odd winner of the self-improvement lottery: He meets us all in our endless and inescapable losing.”
Robert Farrar Capon
For most of us, life is not an ecstasy of really wonderful things that roll unceasingly over us. Sometimes it attacks us. It can have teeth. Goblins and giants begin to encircle us, pressing to our very door. Several friends of mine have faced down divorce lately. Others have gotten very sick. I have some dear ones who battle with mental illnesses. Pain, pain, and more pain.
I certainly don’t intend to be excessively bleak. It was Job who described us as, “Man is born to trouble, as the ‘sparks’ fly upward.” Job was no pessimist, but he was neither an optimist. But he fully grasped that bad things will happen to good people. And I suppose sitting quietly, grieving with friends will adjust your perspective.
“Paul and Barnabas returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, 22 where they strengthened the believers. They encouraged them to continue in the faith, reminding them that we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”
Acts 14:21, 22, NLT
These two heroes of the faith, Paul and Barnabas visit these cities. They now have an awareness of what their message is to be. It was one of encouragement, and of endurance, and of the ways of God. They both had the physical evidence to show that they “understood” the scope of their teaching.
Suffering is like learning another language. It is then you can minister deeply.
When I learned Spanish it was a new and vital way of communicating to millions of other people. Learning to speak “fluent” suffering will open up the world to billions of people. Learning to speak the language of pain will unlock many closed doors. Broken believers are in high demand for this “kind of work.”
A lot of us will never learn. We are sold on this exotic idea that God wants us healthy and wealthy. But health and wealth were never supposed to be ends in themselves. Jesus is to be all we seek and desire. When the bottom drops out, will Jesus be enough for you? Will you be encouraged by this revelation of suffering to enter the Kingdom?
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”
Hebrews 10:36, NLT
“You will know more of Jesus in one sanctified trial, than in wading through a library of volumes, or listening to a lifetime of sermons.”
“Adversity is always unexpected and unwelcomed. It is an intruder and a thief, and yet in the hands of God, adversity becomes the means through which His supernatural power is demonstrated.”
“He knows when we go into the storm, He watches over us in the storm, and He can bring us out of the storm when His purposes have been fulfilled.”
Warren W. Wiersbe