Romans 8:17. But if we are to share glory, we must also share his suffering.
That line from Romans is staggering. It is almost a promise of the hardships that we will face if we choose to follow Jesus. Honestly, it frightens me. I cling to this life that I have, to these plans that I have made, to the common sense thinking that if I put good in that good will come out. I have lived long enough and have seen enough to know that isn’t the case. Bad things don’t just happen to bad people and good things don’t just happen to good people. I have been in situations that I wanted to scream out and probably have “That isn’t fair.” How far my heart is from God and His purpose for my life.
In the early years of my marriage and family I felt guilty for how much happiness that I had. I didn’t deserve it. I layed my head on my pillow at night and said a short pray and summed it all up to God’s grace on my bad decisions. Then, there was a shift. Happiness, Contentment, Protection, Nearness to God, Inclusion….these are things that became difficult to find. For the last four years I feel like I have prayed the same prayer and the hardships continue to grow; each of them stranger than the one before. One of my main prayers has been to feel close to God….then today like a stack of books the answer comes down on me…..you cannot have the glory without the suffering. Jesus is love. Jesus suffered. I need to love. I may even need to suffer a little bit. I can handle all of that, but how do I do that and stay loving and kind….especially in the situations that cause the hurting and frustration. I think the most important is to not allow my heart grow cold, because that is exactly what I want to do. I want to clam up. I want to say that it is all a sham, a machine of control against a large population of people that need something bigger to believe in because we are too dumb or weak to accept the truth that this is all there is….a big blue sky and cold dark ground. I want to feed the momentary needs that will bring me happiness. I want to run. I want to quit.
Then, I pick up My Bible and see this…..
Mathew 24:12 Because of the increase of wickedness the love of most will grow cold.
What?!?! No, it must be a coincidence. No, it isn’t. This is how God speaks to me when I am weak; when I humble myself to Him and call out for help. He is there. Always there.
It all begins to make sense in the most illogical way when I spend time in the word. We have this perfect savior that showed love in the most sacrificial way to set an example to us to love and sacrifice for one another. When that model is followed we will suffer just as The Trinity did, however that suffering is not without glory. The strangest part being that the thorns bring us nearer to God and we become more Christlike…even when we want to fight it The Bible speaks to us and compels us to live out a sacrificial life that brings glory to God, our maker. Our personal glory may not even be experienced in this lifetime….this lifetime could all be the process of preparing our souls for the eternity, the oneness, the agape love that we are promised in His Word, The Bible.
In the words of one of my favorites, Jack Johnson: Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy and
Sometimes life can be deceiving.
If only it were that easy.. I seriously want to turn the other way. Following Jesus isn’t unicorns and butterflies. It’s tough. I want to quit all of the time… Just like real love does I am pulled back in every time.
2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
I will push on and rejoice in the hardship, because it is in the hardship that I am learning more about the most amazing love that has ever existed. My son wrote it the best in our afternoon Bible study. “The purpose of life is to get stronger while bad things happen and get closer to God.”
I will lean on these ideas and verses as I struggle to make sense of this strange world.
*Disclaimer* I do realize “the suffering” that I feel like I have in my life is nothing. I feel like an idiot for even calling it suffering. My life is full of amazing gifts and I am beyond blessed…much more than I deserve. I am still a person and just like every person reading this I have issues in my life that affect my heart…hand picked issues that were picked just for me to see which way I would turn in the chaos….that’s another beautiful part of this story…We get to choose Him.