Almost two years ago, God, in His infinite mercy and grace, radically changed my heart and perspective in regards to some issues in my life that had served as a source of anger and bitterness for a long time. For the better part of a decade, there was this rage that coursed through me and it felt as if it formed a wall of stone around my heart that would never be broken down. I truly believed that I was bound to live that way. I thought that I would never stop feeling angry about certain things God had purposed to happen in my life. Despite my doubts, God was faithful to chisel away that stone over time. And I will never forget the moment I felt Him pierce it. Although it was a painful and messy process throughout, His hand was steady and true. After a while, I realized that He hadn’t just changed my heart… He changed my eyes as well. I began to see my suffering in a different light. I no longer looked upon it with disdain and despair. Instead I came to understand that all of the agony and heartache- the moments when it literally felt like my heart was being stepped on and the life drained out of me or the sorrow that made every breath feel like work- all of it was for my good because it led me to a deeper knowledge of and love for my Redeemer. With this new vision, I could look at all the things I despised and questioned for so long and understand that it was all God’s grace. It was my loving Father cutting away my desires for the world and teaching me that earth pales in comparison to His eternal glory. Through the suffering, my eyes were turned from lifeless idols and opened to a greater purpose. I saw the beauty of Christ in a new light and that made all the pain worth it.
So why recap this experience that I’ve already previously blogged about and how does that relate to now?
In part, because the Lord has continued to work on my heart and sight because there are still plenty of improvements to be made in both and I am reminded of my desperate need for Him every day. However, my primary purpose in writing this now is because of how applicable it has become in recent months.
Since the beginning of this year, The Lord has brought me into a new season. A season where I’m not suffering directly from a hard circumstance, but where I am watching people I really care about endure hardship. I have to admit that, in some ways, it’s been harder on this side of things because I would rather be the one in their place. Nevertheless, as I have witnessed their suffering, God has reinforced the truth I have learned regarding suffering and brought me to a place where I must practice faith in such truth. As I have prayed for loved ones during this time and asked The Lord to strengthen their faith and show them more of Him, I’ve realized that He is already answering that prayer through the trials they are facing. In the midst of their sorrow and loss, He is showing them that He is enough. Through their anguish, He is bringing them to a deeper knowledge and understanding of the agony Christ endured on their behalf. Through all of their prayers and cries to Him from the pit of despair, they will grasp to a greater degree the weight that Jesus bore in bearing our sin and all of its consequences and the separation it caused from His Father and they will come to a deeper appreciation for His grace in sparing us from spending eternity in such a hopeless state. This is as hopeless as we will ever be or feel. This is a temporary season as well as a temporary suffering, but it leads us to sight of the eternal. Suffering strips us of our cares and confidence in the world around us. It brings us to our knees in desperation, but we look up to see the One whose wounds supply our healing. The more we lose on earth, the more we gain Christ! We do not grieve as those who have no hope. We instead press on to the prize of knowing and treasuring Christ in His fullness, clinging to His cross as our only means of reconciliation with our heavenly Father, all the while believing that none of this will compare to the glory that will be revealed in us the day we enter into His presence and are changed into His likeness.
More than ever before, I pray with John, ‘Come, Lord Jesus!’
Although I don’t always welcome seasons like this or handle adversity with grace, there is a sweetness and certainty in walking through such times knowing that they will produce a greater faith in and adoration of Christ in my life, as well as the lives of those I care about. And so I thank God for the suffering that leads to sight.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” -Romans 5:1-5
“Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” -1 Peter 4:19