I’m not even done with the first month of 2012 and I am already weary. It seems that there have been so many problems plaguing me and the people I love. Of course, some of the problems are new, but some of the problems are just left-overs that have hung around from 2011. There are even some issues I’m facing that have been hanging around for years — some have taken new forms, but some are just that same old mean, nasty, lingering problems that I’ve known and experienced for the past few years of my life. I have friends in the same position. Some of us are fighting depression, the loss of employment, and troubles with family. Some of us have been lied to and betrayed. We’ve lost trust in some of the people closest to us. The people in our lives have confused us and, as my Daddy sometimes says, “We don’t know our butts from third base.”
Dear friends, don’t be surprised by the fiery troubles that are coming in order to test you. Don’t feel as though something strange is happening to you, but be happy as you share Christ’s sufferings. Then you will also be full of joy when he appears again in his glory. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (GWT)
I know that I’m being tested. I know that you are being tested. Some of the testing is ugly and brings worldly thoughts into our heads. Just this past weekend, I thought of someone who, in my eyes, has it made. I even said to myself, “Now I could live her life and do such a good job of it, Lord, you might consider giving her life to me permanently. What do you think of that God?” By the way, God didn’t think much of it. Instead. He’s spent the last two days showing me how very blessed I am despite my personal sufferings. He hasn’t let me forget a single thing in my life that is good or the fact that those blessings are directly from Him.
Our suffering as Christians serves five purposes:
- Suffering causes us to rely fully on the Lord. Sometimes, we run away first to try and “make it on our own.” But when that fails we humbly come to God on our knees, even if it takes years.
- Suffering causes sin to lose its power. No matter what the world does to you, God is always there. You are not alone. You have His power.
- Suffering causes our witness to become stronger. When we find success after suffering, we offer praise to The One who gave us the strength to survive. God gets all the glory.
- Suffering causes us to become sensitive to the problems of other people. We recognize the hurt we’ve experienced in others and we have empathy for them. It makes us approachable.
- Suffering causes us to be esteemed in God’s eyes. When we don’t give up, God sees the determination in us and we are blessed.
It’s easy to leave God’s Word and prayer out of our lives when we’re hurting. Who has time to read the Bible and pray when you’re licking your wounds? This, then, is the time to get up off that couch, put away the bag of chips, put on some lipstick (my friend, John Pat McCall says you can accomplish anything if you’ve got your lipstick on), and ask God what He wants you to do. I’ll bet His response will be to do something for someone else, expecting nothing in return. Getting “into” others is a sure-fire way to get “outside” of yourself.
I chose “It is Well with My Soul” for this week’s HCIKFS emphasis because it’s a comfort song and I’ve been in drastic need of comfort and hope this past week. I chose to share this particular video version because Bill Gaither tells the background of the hymn”s writer, Horatio Spafford. You will hear about the ghastly things this man had to endure in his life. His losses were great, but His joy in the Lord was profound. This is how I want to live my life! The world may steal my happiness, but it will never take my JOY!
“It is Well with My Soul” (Gaithers with Guy Penrod) http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=KYP–c2LTfg