An underlying culture exists in America today, a pattern of thought that says, "At all costs, avoid pain." And we, as the church, must take care to not let our understanding of scripture be shaped or influenced by such a world view. For from this culture we have seen such pseudo-spiritual doctrines as "name it and claim it" spring up to entice the body of Christ. We’ve incorrectly divided scriptures such as "By His wounds we are healed" to wrongly mean that we shall never suffer disease of any kind. Yet it was the disease of sin that was defeated on the cross. Comfort is king in our "now" society and we must take care that we don't adopt that attitude in ourselves.

I'm going through a dark night of my soul. Right now in my life. It's uncomfortable, and I want it to end. And I suppose that my desire for comfort, release, and escape goes beyond just the cultural norm of today. Our human nature doesn't embrace suffering. Understandable. Who does? But let's not ignore or misinterpret scripture to sooth the itching of our ears. Weeping may last for the night (however long that night may be), but we have a hope - joy comes in the morning.

It's OK to suffer. I want to give you permission to go through the hard times. Know this, God is working. He is sanctifying. We don't stop asking, we don't stop praying, but we do leave behind us the presumptuous attitude of entitlement that says we don't have to suffer. Since Christ suffered in the flesh, we are instructed, arm yourselves with the same attitude. In this life, you will have trouble; but you will also have hope - Jesus has overcome this world.

God gave me a personal promise many years ago assuring me that His plans for me were for good, not for evil, to give me a future and a hope. He qualified that promise to me, though. There are some elements of that promise that may apply to this life. I'm glad to know that. But this promise goes far beyond my back ache, head ache, depression, confusion, ringing in my ears, glaucoma, or any other ails I may suffer. Imagine heaven. This promise applies greatly to heaven. What great plans He has for us beyond this vapor, this flash of the present life.

No more pain, no more damaged nerves. No more depression or mood swings. Good, not evil. A future and a hope - forever. If in this life only we place our hope, we are men and women most miserable. 

But if I am healed, may it never be for my comfort alone, for my present desire, but may be to His glory. May it never be because I simply declared what I wanted, but only because it was His will and He said so. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. If I suffer, may I suffer under the discipline of God, as His son, as He corrects, challenges, and grows me. If I walk through pain, may I never firstly look to escape, but may I rather seek His will in the situation, and find His way out, in His time. Who knows, my suffering may allow me to bring compassionate help to others who suffer likewise.

I want to give you permission to suffer. You're not a bad Christian because you walk with a limp, have sciatic pain, or are going through a dark night of your soul. Your faith hasn't failed, it is being built. You are learning trust. God will get you through this. I want to extend to you the invitation Jesus gave to come to Him if you labor or are weary and heavy laden (with spiritual anxiety). He has rest. He has hope.

Now, allow me to leave you with a story; a time of suffering that God pulled me out of. (There have been many, but I'll recount this one.) My back was increasingly giving me pain. It came to the point where I could not walk normally. I had a limp. During a concert, the Lord spoke to my heart. There have been a handful of times that He has spoken to me in this way, each time proving itself to come true. I've grown to know His voice. He said to me, "What if God healed your back?" An interesting way to phrase that. I will tell you this, I walked (not limped) out of that concert with my back completely healed. And today, years later, it remains healed. 

Your suffering may last through the night. The back pain, the hurting shoulder, the feeling of loss or sadness. But know this, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us; His timing is perfect. Does He want us to suffer? Of course not. But He knows it may be necessary for the time being. Consider this hardship as discipline from a loving and accepting God. You are His child after all. 


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog