"If you write FOR a particular market or FOR a particular editor you will often miss the mark. But if you write because your fingers have danced across the keyboard, because a character has tapped you on the shoulder, because a story has settled in your heart, then even if you never sell it you have done the work you were meant to do. And sometime, dear readers, real magic happens." Jane Yolen

9/10/08

Blessed Ministry of Suffering

I have a couple blogs on the back burner, so to speak (got them started, but haven't had a chance to finish them), but this one has been haunting me all morning (and moving me!) that I feel it is only gracious to share it with you right now.

As many of you know, I've been using L.B. Cowman's Streams In The Desert for my daily devotional this year. It is an amazingly powerful devotional, and if you have not used it before (and even if you have), I strongly suggest you give it a try. You will find many, many blessings there.

The reading for today, September 10, was on suffering. I'm fairly certain I cannot summarize it with any justice, so I will post the most incredibly moving parts verbatim, then give my thoughts following.
When a person who suffers reaches a point where he can be calm and carefree, inwardly smiling at his own suffering, and no longer asking God to be delivered from it, then the suffering has accomplished its blessed ministry. perseverance has "finish[ed] its work" (James 1:4), and the pain of the Crucifixion has begun to weave itself into a crown.
I have not arrived at this point, nor had I ever considered asking God to help me get there (before today, anyhow). But, as of this morning, I have started petitioning Him to help me get there. I want my and my husband's suffering to accomplish its blessed ministry. I want to get to the point where I can smile inwardly through my trials, where I can stop asking to be removed from my difficulties. I want that crown. I want to get to the point where I would rather be where I am than in a stress-free life.
It is in this experience of complete suffering that the Holy Spirit works many miraculous things deep within our soul. In this condition, our entire being lies perfectly still under the hand of God; every power and ability of the mind, will, and heart are at last submissive; a quietness of eternity settles into the entire soul; and finally, the mouth becomes quiet, having only a few words to say, and stops crying out the words Christ quoted on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Psalm 22:1) (emphasis mine)
This, especially the boldface portion, is amazingly encouraging to me. It shows me that this acceptance is a process. The fact that I'm "not there" yet doesn't mean I can't get there, nor does it mean I am sinning. The perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ, had to go through the process of letting go of his suffering and resting in His Father. If Christ had to go through it, then perhaps desiring it is at least a step in the right direction.
At this point the person stops imagining castles in the sky, and pursuing foolish ideas, and his reasoning becomes calm and relaxed, with all choices removed, because the only choice has now become the purpose of God.
Oh, how I long for this! How many times have I struggled with decisions, wondering what was His will? I so wish I could look ahead and only see God's purpose for me. Wow.

(There's more to this devotional today - I can't more highly recommend getting a hold of it and reading the September 10 devotional!)

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for putting this devotional, this wisdom for You, before me today. Help me to get to the point where I can rest in my struggles and rejoice in my submissiveness to Your will. Lord, I so want to get to the point where my only choice is the purpose of God. Guide me in that direction. In Jesus' name. Amen.

6 comments:

  1. I cannot remember ever smiling through my struggles, but I wish to do that too. Truly. Convicting and encouraging at the same time.

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  2. Thank you for this. Truly only the Holy Spirit can make such a miraculous transformation in our hearts. Isn't it great news that He wants to do that?

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  3. I've often thought, Joanne, that being able to bend ourselves to the Father's will in our lives, especially in our most desperate times, HAS to be one of His reasons for allowing our earthly struggles! I see my life now in terms of how supple I am with each successive storm. What growth and grace would we achieve if we finally let this be our all-consuming prayer-for everything: "Your will, Lord. That's all."

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  4. I hear you, Joanne. These are powerful words, both your words and the thoughts of the devotional. I've walked a different road, yet in some ways similiar.

    Joanne, when you have the chance, please come by and read my last two blog posts. (A turn toward the better). I think they might minister to you, especially in light of what you've written here. I'm sorry for your struggle; still and yet, I'm not sure I could or would keep you from it.

    You are in the birthpains of something...

    Only God knows.

    much love and peace your way this day~elaine

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  5. I confess, smiling is not usually the first thing I want to do when I'm in the midst of trials. But with God, it does happen once in a while. Great post.

    And just in case you were unsure of how much I love your blog, stop by my blog to see - I have a little something for you over there! Blessings!

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  6. esThis book is at the top of my list, Jo. I love that you're posting about it, I'm learning so much.

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