In Which Suffering Brings Us Deep Into The Heart of God

It was the same conversation we'd been having for a year and a half. Six years really, but the past year and half its frequency has really picked up.

At the end of it I told my husband I was having déjà vu. I was having déjà vu not just of the conversation, but of even just saying I was having déjà vu about this very topic.

"I hate this, but nothing's going to change today." I told him. "So how do where we are, well?"

***

A crumpled, well-worn sheet of paper hung on our fridge for most of my growing up years, "Life is 10 percent what happens to you, and ninety precent how you react to it." In my high school years, my mom would tell me to "choose my attitude" at least twenty times a day, then nod to the piece of paper.

***

We all have limitations in our life, things we wish were not happening, and things we wish were happening – but are not. And as I approach turning 30 in less than a month, I'm learning every stage of life has hard things that we have to learn to cope with and continue to function well within. Some things we deal with for just a moment – like choosing not to yell at our kids when they flush a bouncy ball down the toilet and flood the bathroom. Some for few weeks or months at a time, like a sickness that sweeps through the entire house, a colicky baby, or an overcommitted schedule. And some things last for years: family health issues, infertility or miscarriage, a difficult job, spousal tensions, financial strains, or a child's behavioral issues.

Some things are easy to find solutions for: get the kids to the doctor and wait for them to heal, scale back on your schedule going forward, but what about those things that you can't change? Those things you keep coming up empty on when looking for solutions, those things that are out of your power, out of your control, those things that just make you feel like you're running on a hamster wheel of non-solutions?

As my mom engrained in my brain, you have a choice. You can use this season to suffer well, or you can fritter it away with bitterness, guilt, blame and anger. I have come to find that if I choose it, suffering draws me into a deeper and sweeter intimacy with Christ. It is in the long seasons of waiting for God to bring redemption that I have found myself dwelling deeper in the heart of God. It seems like it's backwards, that suffering should drive us away from the one who is sovereign over the universe, but I have only found that the deeper and longer the wound, the more intimate and affectionate my love for my Savior has become. When I'm in the valley, at the base of the mountain, I drink deep from the River of Life.

Because, and this is the key: Do you count it all loss for the sake of Christ?

Suffering has a way of forcing us to choose. Do we choose this life? Its worldy pleasures? The things our culture tells us we must have to be happy? Or do we choose Christ?

We treasure many things in our time here on Earth, and most of them are good, splendid, wonderful things: children, strong marriages, physical health, exciting job opportunities, involved husbands, the ability to make ends meet, life-giving friendships – but are we prepared to give all of that up for the sake of knowing our Lord? In the midst of your suffering, are you choosing a heart attitude that says you treasure Christ more than these things, as good as they are?

Hard times force us to turn our gaze to God and his eternal glory and not put our hope in the things of this world that are passing away. Take hope in knowing there is purpose in your suffering: To know Christ in a way you never have before. You count all else loss because you are gaining something far more valuable: The precious treasure of going deeper into the heart of God.

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