A position on suffering

 

 

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But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8 (NIV)

 

These verses hit me in an unexpected way last week.  As I heard that word “witness,” I found myself responding with a grumpy, “Witness? What do I witness to except to pain?”

 

Have you realized that no question is off limits with our Lord?

 

Just then a rustling in the bushes not 5 feet away from me caused me to look up. The first red finch of the season sat perched on the top of a plant, and he drank the early morning dew from the tips of the leaves.  The hardness of the moment before melted with the tears that streamed down my cheeks.  I heard another rustling. This stirring was in my heart, as the Lord whispered:

 

Yes, my daughter you are a witness to the pain. But you are a witness to the Beauty of Love from within the place of pain. And I will be glorified there.

 

A few weeks ago, one of my friends remarked that she could see a difference in the way that I approached suffering. She asked me if I would be willing to write some thoughts telling where my view of suffering now lands.

 

Where can I begin?

When pain swallows my nights

How can I then sing?

 

What shall I speak?

If I must open my mouth

Would only pain leak?

 

From the time I first asked Jesus to cleanse away my sin, I rejoiced that He had given me a clean heart. I knew that it was not of me to be clean, but only His gift to me.  I rejoiced as I pictured the living water flowing over me and washing all the ugly sins away.

 

But when chronic illness caught up with me, the body that held my heart suddenly became ugly to me.  What had once been a beautiful offering–to give Him my heart–had become muddied by an ugly covering.  Instead of seeing Jesus as my covering, I allowed myself to get stuck in the outward trappings of my illness and pain.

 

When pain shouts

When grief screams

When lament falls

Where will a way be found?

 

Ahh, in the very place of lamenting He gave His voice to me, and He transformed my view of suffering.  It wasn’t that the pain lifted. No, it often seemed to get worse. It wasn’t that I suddenly had a message of cure waiting for me.  No, there was no cure in sight.

 

Except for the SURE and FULL cure that He offered in Himself:

 

For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10-11 (Phillips)

 

It is in the embracing of suffering that we are allowed a share in the fellowship of what Jesus bore for us.  We are covered, and our most broken parts themselves are fully held by our Lord who tasted every drop of every suffering that every person could ever bear.

 

So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe.  This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)

 

One of the first hymns that I remember being able to read by myself, is one that has stuck with me through decades of changes.  And yet, the truth of the words have remained unchanging: HE is the one who still leads me.

 

 

 

Who will see the face I know?

If I stay silent when darkness falls

Who can find His beauty’s flow?

 

I will spend the rest of my days

being a witness to the beauty He brings

in the darkest of days. 

 

In the deepest suffering

He carries me closer

than I could have dreamed.

 

 

 

Over this past month, I had the honor of being part of a book launch for a beautiful book, “Loving Your Friend Through Cancer,” by Marissa Henley.  If you have a friend or family member who is walking through the scary days of a cancer diagnosis, I highly recommend this book.  Marissa herself is a cancer survivor, and she shares from her own experience the ways that God brought friends and supporters to walk with and to encourage her along the way.

From practical helps to intimate spiritual thoughts, Marissa has written a book that gets to the heart of the matter for anyone who longs to bless their friends who are walking a dark path.  From the point of view of someone who lives with a daily chronic illness, I could identify with much of the wisdom that she shared. I pray that the Lord will bless the launch of this great book.  “I received a free copy of the book from the publisher, and this review is my honest opinion.” You can find it at Amazon by clicking here.

 

Are you, or someone you care about, facing a pathway filled with pain? Will you join with me in prayer today?

“Dear Lord Jesus,

We come before You now with many questions raging through our souls. We confess that suffering has brought us to our knees in weakness. Will You open our hearts to find the place where You dwell with us, in the midst of our pain? And will You help us to lay that pain before You as an offering of worship? We long to see the beauty of what Your suffering has accomplished for us. And in that beauty we are stirred here to open our mouths in praise. Even that praise is a gift from You! Thank You for the gift of Your Presence in our lives. Thank You for the strength that only You can fulfill–You are the Joy of our hearts.

In Your precious name we pray,

Amen.”

 

“Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,  and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:11-12 (NIV)

 

I am linking this week with:

#Teaandword

#Destinationinspiration

#Sittingamongfriends

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “A position on suffering

  1. Oh Bettie. These words are just so so precious. It’s because you haven’t stayed silent that I’ve felt myself carried so much. Your witness has stripped so much of my shame, as have your many many prayers right from that place of pain. I am so very thankful that you have courageously answered His calling to witness. I am so very blessed, daily. Praise be to God for His beauty so very present in and through you.

    These are my favorite lines:

    Who will see the face I know?

    If I stay silent when darkness falls

    Who can find His beauty’s flow?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Anna,
      Thank you for always being open and eager to hear more of my stories. You have been such a blessing to me as well, through this process of surrendering more of my weaknesses to Jesus. But isn’t it so wonderful how He steps in right there and overwhelms us with Himself? Just when we think we cannot go forward, He carries us to where we need to be. I am so glad that He finds such beautiful ways to encourage us. Hugs & Love to you dear friend! xo

      Liked by 2 people

    1. And, that was the hardest part for me to release today. The enemy just loves to taunt and try to stop us from obeying the Lord! Thank you for your prayers. I am so grateful that Jesus helped me to give it all to Him!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Bette,
    Great post, one that I can empathize with, I too have chronic autoimmune illnesses, one of which gives daily global pain throughout the body & my late husband died from brain cancer. I have been able to see God’s love, strength & power work mightily in my weakness. Praise Him, He knows our pain & your witness is encouraging!

    Remember you’re always welcome to join me in a cuppa anytime!
    Jennifer

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Jennifer,
      I am so sorry for the pain and illnesses that you deal with! But I am so thankful for your compassionate and understanding heart. I have sensed that heart in you so much when I visit your site for “tea.” What a precious Lord, who truly does “work mightily in my weakness.” How much our heart is lifted when we realize that He is here and knows our pain. I am so thankful you were encouraged–you brought encouragement to me also! Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “It is in the embracing of suffering that we are allowed a share in the fellowship of what Jesus bore for us.” It’s hard to understand, but it really is true. And in the suffering we see the love of Jesus holding us. He knows our pain.

    I love your poem and it was especially touching to hear you read it! I think my favorite lines were the same as Anna’s. Thank you so much.

    Blessings, love and hugs to you, my dear sister! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Gayl,
      Thank you so much for your sweet encouragement. It really is such a mystery the way that Jesus calls us to share in His suffering–but you are so right that we see His love holding us there. What a blessing to share in that love with each other, as we walk different paths, but yet each one has faced some kind of suffering. I am so grateful for the ways that He has woven our journeys together, dear sister. Blessings, love, and hugs to you! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I bear witness to that beautiful word for you from Jesus. Your attitude is bright and noticeable. I read this morning that Jesus called Himself the light of the world and those that follow Him are witnesses to that light. That’s you for sure even in your suffering. It is hard to shine when hurting and I appreciate you so much. Glad your husband is coming along well. You both are in my prayers. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much for your sweet words and encouragement. You are so right that it is hard to shine when hurting. Only Jesus’ light is what gets us through. I love that thought you shared–truly we are witnesses to His light. What a blessing to be able to rest ourselves in Him, and in His light! I am going to hold onto that thought tonight, dear friend! Blessings and hugs to you too!

      Like

  5. Oh, dear friend! Such a precious post! You have such an amazing testimony, and you are such an inspiration and blessing to so many…especially to me. God shines through your pain in your every word. Sending much love to you and praying faithfully for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Thank you for all of your precious encouragement and prayer support! Oh, where would we be without His glorious grace and strength? He is so good to send us just the right word at just the right time. I am amazed at the way He speaks to us–His own Word truly is active and alive for and in us! You are in my prayers also dear friend! Love & Hugs to you!

      Like

  6. Bettie, loved your beautiful writing and powerful insights. The prayer at the end – wow! Now that is really powerful! Thank you so much for your perspectives and for the example you set about how to deal with chronic pain. I’m thinking of you! Blessings!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Leslie,
      I am so blessed that you found encouragement and the Lord’s touch here. You bring tears to my eyes to think that the Lord would bring help to you through the words He brought about here. I am so grateful that He connects us and lets us share in the ways that He speaks. Your prayers are so appreciated! May you be blessed tonight!

      Liked by 1 person

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