My friend, April (a spiritual mother), had said it like this just this winter: “Embrace the season of death, for it brings change. That, and it’s only a season.” Feeling the truth of it square in my chest, I’d taken her words and I’d done it. Throwing both arms open with heart-doors flung wide, I’d done that very thing.
Then came Sunday, and Pastor’s sermon. Faithful man, he’s teaching the hard things. And me? Oh, as for me, I’m nodding, “Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s all true!” I’m smiling inside, grinning huge, bathed in peace for I’ve lived it. I’ve known it. I’ve walked it. I’ve embraced this ‘thing,’ this suffering, this hardship. And in embracing this tool from God, well, it’s changed me.
Can I just speak straight, talk plain to you about what suffering’s done in my life? “Suffering as believers is always purposeful.” That’s what Pastor said yesterday, and he’s right, yes, he’s right, oh, he’s right! Suffering, once I finally embraced it, has given me the chance to have strongholds broken, to gain ground and to press further into Christ than I ever have before. I could shout here ’cause it’s all true.
Secondly, suffering has taken me to a new level of surrender. And when there’s less of me, there’s more of Him. This is such good news,and it’s worth (I mean this) dying for.
In receiving suffering, pain and difficulty, my faith in Him has increased. Which means that fear’s diminished. It was mere weeks ago, driving along, that He spoke this right to my heart: “When you say ‘yes’ to fear, you deny Christ. But when you say ‘yes’ to Christ, you deny fear.” Friend, let me tell you that the more you taste of Christ, the more you want. And He’s sweet.
Suffering, if you let it, will change you. All three of the lovely, older and wiser godly women who have spoken into my life have said the same thing, “It will change you. And as you begin to change, those around you will change, too.” You want the key to real change in your family? Your workplace? Your church, and your friends? Change first. You change, and those around you will change, too. (This is a whole blog post on its own, but maybe later.)
Will it surprise you to know that my situation’s not resolved yet? That in spite of that, I’m at a place of sweetest joy, peace and trust–anyway? Me, too! I’m shocked in the happiest kind of way at the grace and love of a big, big Father who can move a girl from Scared to Faith-full and fill her up with joy. He’s good!
And now a final word of encouragement for you who, too, are suffering. “God has His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat.” That’s what Pastor said at the end of his sermon, and it’s the sweetest kind of comfort. Remembering this, that He is, always and ever, in charge. That these, our sufferings and trials, are only temporary. And after that, glory!
Press in, dear one. Press on. Press up, press through and keep walking. For this thing that seems meant for your destruction is actually designed for your greatest good. It will end, it won’t last, so keep walking.
Most warmly, then, and with joy on your behalf,