Thursday, November 22, 2007

Suffering and Thanksgiving

Fellowship of Suffering ~ A Divine Exchange
by Lori Rauzi

Open my eyes to clearly see; the path

You took of humility.

Aide my ears to every sound;

Your silence cried out when beaten down.

Enhance my taste to every good

that joy in pain You understood.

Train my scent to know the prayer

of tears of blood that broke the snare.

Then full my arms to Thee embrace

as I fellowship in sufferings face to face!

"Consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest you be weary and faint in Your mind." ~Hebrews 12:3

Today is Thanksgiving, and I know I have much to be thankful for, but all day I was feeling the seeming irony of the fact that my family is going through so much suffering right now. But then I realized earlier tonight that suffering is something I need to be thankful for as well, along with all the good. Not only because it helps me grow, but because it brings me closer to Christ, as I understand more about who He is and about what He did for me. This understanding is an example of where I suddenly understand something new about a passage I thought I knew well.

Phillipians 3:8-11 "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death."

The term "fellowship of His sufferings" was something I'd only vaguely understood before, and I know God will continue to teach me more about it in years to come, but I'm so thankful that I have gained a little bit more understanding through the tender whisperings of the Spirit within me. I now realize that the purging the LORD does in my life, and the sufferings I go through in that purging, is directly related to how I become conformed to Him, and to His death. It is yet another revelation regarding who I am in Him, and I marvel over and over again at His grace. No, suffering isn't enjoyable, but my spiritual joy can still remain constant, because if I respond to my Heavenly Father's love while in my suffering, He will then draw me closer, revealing to me more about Himself and what He did for me. Once I completely trust Him and place my suffering in His hands, I will then be able to accept the gift of peace He has waiting for me, because He is then my focus, and not the pain in my heart.

I won't go into the specifics of the sufferings myself and my family have been going through, because that will do nothing to draw me to Christ, or to encourage another believer. The basics of it however are that at the moment I am faced with the fear of losing friendships I have had for years, with people I care deeply about, mainly because of the stand I am taking here as I write, and in my decision to not remain anonymous. However, I know the LORD is using all this for good, no matter the outcome, because already He is drawing me closer to Himself, and proving Himself over and over again trustworthy. I was already convinced of His ability to care for me and provide for my every need, but He is now teaching me how to apply that knowledge in my life, and is showing me how to cling to Him even tighter.

My emotional and spiritual well-being does not depend on the words, actions, or sentiments of any other person. The LORD is my all in all. He is my Rock, my refuge, my fortress, and I am gaining more and more understanding of what Paul meant when he said "I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." (Phillipians 4:11)

I have so much to be thankful for. Not because my life is perfect, but because my Father is faithful. My Abba will never leave me or forsake me. He desires me to rest in the fullness of His embrace, and find peace and supernatural joy in my suffering, as I begin to understand His Son in His suffering as we stand face to face.

(The poem at the beginning of this post was written a few weeks ago by a very good friend of my family's, and she shared the poem with us as we celebrated Thanksgiving together today. I had already been thinking a lot about the correlation between thanksgiving and suffering, so when she read the poem, it helped me to see what it is that my Heavenly Father was trying to show me. That suffering is so much more than a means to spiritual growth; it brings me closer to His Son. I thought the poem so beautiful in its simplicity, I wanted to share it here and Lori gave me her permission to share it. I hope it encourages others the way it encouraged me.)


kingdavid said...

For me, the trick is understanding the difference between suffering, mind-battles, frustrations, petty annoyances, yada-yada. I don't know that I've ever had to truly suffer, like the Apostle Paul, or countless brothers and sisters in Christ who are being persecuted around the world.

I've got a large share of personal problems and mind-battles that I struggle with on a daily basis for sure; but, the thing that gets me through all that is knowing that my relationships with my wife, my family, my friends, my church family, are all in pretty good shape.

I had a class one time and the guy made the statement: your quality of life is totally dependant on the quality of your relationships. I had to think about that a long time, but I'm realizing more and more how true that is; of course the most important relationship is with our Savior, and you have that figured out it would appear.

I haven't read through the rest of your posts, but I'm glad you left a comment on mine so I could find you here. We have a great little circle of Christian friends going on in the blogosphere right now. We all have our struggles; but man, there's still alot of joy and humor in the world that's available for us to find on a daily basis, and that's as important as understanding the deep things as well.

I'm 50, you're 21; believe me, there are going to be peaks and valleys galore that you'll travel through on the way to hitting 50; just keep your focus right where you have it, on the author and finisher of our faith.

Uncle Ben said...

Amanda, I've spent the last two hours or so poking around the issues and contentions that you have alluded to in your posts. Wow! I'm still not sure I quite understand what is going on. That said, you are quite right in placing all of your trust in the Lord's hands. Giving in to vitriol can only do harm, but embracing Christ brings life itself. And what a life!

IndweltDaughter said...

Dear kingdavid,

Thank you very much for your comment, and your encouragment. And thank you for reading my blog, I hope the LORD can use my own feable words to be encouraging to others, all to His glory.

Every blessing in Christ


IndweltDaughter said...

Dear Uncle Ben,

You are so right about the difference between embracing vitriol versus embracing Christ. I'm so thankful the LORD was able to turn my eyes to Him, instead of the discord it would be so easy to focus on that unfortunately always seems to permeate certain areas of the Christian community. Thank you for reading, I hope it was encouraging!

Every blessing in Christ


Mall Diva said...

This post makes me think of a book I am reading right now, called "The Shack" by William P. Young. It seems to me that it would be right up your alley; it is completely amazing. For me, it's changing how I view God, making Him much more real and loving and personal! Gosh, I can hardly describe it. My mom said it was "life-changing", so there you go. I encourage you to check it out.

IndweltDaughter said...

Thanks Diva!

I will definately have to check that book out. I realized something regarding that today too. That I didn't really learn how to trust God until I realize that He takes an active part in drawing me to Himself. I don't need to rely on anyone, or anything else to draw me to Him, because He is already doing everything possible to do so. If it doesn't work, it's because of my own stubbornness and pride, not because of any inaction or inability on His part. Very comforting, no?