God has asked it of me before
Joyce…will you suffer for me for just a little while? Will you endure physical pain, possibly forever? Will you endure social isolation through most of college? Will you put in long hours to this project that you don’t need to do? Will you feel broken for months? Will you endure displeasure from your parents? Will you persist in being an OT? Will you stay single? Will you spend your time agonizing over words? Will you endure my call to singleness (for now, and possibly forever)?
Will you suffer for me for just a little while? Because the story will last forever…long after the pain ends.
Yes, my provision in the middle of your pain will testify to my power
Yes, my making you lonely will help you say “me too” to someone going through a prolonged period of loneliness (love that phrase from Lysa TerKeurst)
Yes, all the work will be worth it in the end when you present at that conference
Yes, right now I am letting you feel broken, but the word I give you through that will lift up others
Right now you suffer the displeasure of others, so you can offer hope to someone suffering lack of approval later. You can say “I know. Here’s how I got through that”
Right now you wish for a different gift, but if you suffer for a little while, a story will live forever
Right now you feel pained by singleness, but one day you will birth out a poem of surrender that will long outlive the pain
One day, all the pain will fade. One day, all the pain will make sense. One day, it will all feel worth it. I guarantee it. One day you’ll be free from suffering, but you’re not there yet. Will you suffer for me for just a little while?
I asked it of my son, Jesus. He suffered for me for just a little while to reach you. I ask you to suffer for me for just a little while to reach another. He’s here with me. He tells me it was worth it. One day, you will too. One day, your suffering serve as a beacon of hope for others on stormy waters to come to my shores. One day you’ll praise me for the result of your suffering, which is deep personal knowledge and the saving or encouraging of souls.
What if instead of enduring, I embraced?
What if instead of asking “how,” “why,” or “how long,” I just said “yes”? Kept trusting. Kept confident that when the time is right, I will receive the bread that will sustain me. What if I kept saying thanks in faith? Thanking God that the story of his triumph will last long after the pain ends. Oh, yes, I know the verses. I stuck them to the wall of my college dorm. But somewhere along the way, I stopped living them.
What if, when it’s my reflex to bemoan a trial, I jump to thanking God for building my maturity? No detours. No stops. Just ‘God, thank you for the hard, because I rest in you, and you are making me more mature.’ Maybe that alone shifts us towards joy, even if we didn’t consider it pure joy to start.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you -James 1.2-5
In the world you have tribulation; but take heart, I have overcome the world -John 16.33
…we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. -Romans 5.3
Does it change my joy (or yours) if God’s up there, not only asking me to suffer a little longer, but thanking me for suffering a little longer? Isn’t that a joy, that He’s thankful to have someone obedient and seeking joy in His presence through a trial? Proud of us. What if He’s the father that’s cheering us on, shouting encouragement at us, because He knows we can finish the race, even if we’re not sure? Doesn’t that give us new presence during our hard times? Joy? I think that’s where my heart needs to be.
I also think I need to re-read The Broken Way haha.