Today, a dear friend in the Lord wrote this to me: “I know it isn’t fun to hear, but I know the Lord will teach you something from this experience.”
Indeed, He will. So why isn’t this fun to hear? Shouldn’t I be thrilled by the prospect that my heavenly Father sees fit to further mold me into the image of His Son? Yes! But, let’s be honest. I’d rather my sanctification feel more like a leisurely walk in the park than yet another round of pain and questions and tears.
So to keep me from becoming conceited . . . a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
As one who is independent by nature, I tend to put a lot of stock in what I can accomplish in a day. The past two months have been challenging, both physically and emotionally. I understand Paul’s sentiment here; I, too, have begged the Lord to remove my thorn. Yet, He continues to give a resounding, “No,” and urges me to rest in His sovereignty. It is crystal clear that the Lord is showing me that I do not establish my steps and move myself through my day. The Lord does these things, and I have been a fool to think otherwise! Lord, forgive my arrogance! Help me to walk in Your strength and power and count my own as rubbish.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . .No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In trials it is easy to start wondering if God isn’t actually FOR us. But He is! And He is always good, despite how things look from our perspective. I feel like I am learning how to make this quote true in my life:
I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.
( C.H. Spurgeon)
I don’t want simply to endure a trial; I want to embrace it for the good God has for me and the glory to be brought to Him. THAT is suffering well, I think. And the only way to do that is by yielding to the power of the Spirit in all of it. Because my flesh and my frail human heart reject the pain entirely, and it brings me to the brink of despair.
I am starting to see that these concepts are the same: We are to hold anything He gives us with an open hand, because it’s not ours anyway. He gives and takes away according to His will. In the same way, we must hold our hands open for whatever He brings in the way of suffering. Closing our fist to it is a rejection of the good He has for us. And why would I want to reject that, of all things? By bringing this pain, these questions and tears, the Lord is loving me. He is loving me in a way that is eternal in consequence.
This blows my mind.
I should open my arms — “kiss the wave”, so to speak — and joyfully welcome His method of growth in my life.
Lord, help me learn to kiss the wave, and to be grateful that it’s tossing me against You.
Soli Deo gloria,