Joy in Suffering

2008-07-21-309aRecently, I was reading a book called The Narrow Road (one of the follow up books to Brother Andrew’s original book.)  In the preface of the book, I read a thoughtful statement about Joy in Suffering, which I would like to share here.

“At one time, joy in suffering did not fit into my Kingdom.  My vision could not reach beyond the castle walls.  My God was not big enough to speak into tragedy with laughter.  At the same time my view of the Body of Christ was very small and the Kingdom of God very confining.  I still marvel at the thought that the Kingdom of God has no end.  And because of that, the reach of the King is infinite.  He can reach past government agendas, beyond poverty, and through injustice, into the jail cells and the prison walls to bring laughter.  He can reach into the pain and suffering of torture to bring peace, into the valley of the shadow of death to bring joy!”

Helen Roseveare, now in her 80’s, was an English missionary doctor sent to the Congo during the 1950’s – a time of intense political and spiritual conflict in that country.   She experienced more than any of us could imagine – she was kidnapped, physically violated and verbally/physically abused during her stay in the Congo.  She experienced poverty and hunger.  In her book Give Me This Mountain, she shares some of the insights she gleaned from her experiences in Africa.

“Another deep truth I have learnt, and one we can all cling to, is that God is personally interested in us as individuals and that He will engineer our circumstances and daily lives so that He can thereby make us like Jesus.  This takes the sting out of much that could otherwise hurt.  He allows various accidents and happenings to occur, which all affect us deeply, perhaps, only so that, through them, we may be drawn closer to Himself.   There were times of deep humiliation, coupled with a sense of insufficiency, both as a doctor and as a missionary.   Here, too, these negative experiences were allowed to reveal positive truth.   Only as I found my own insufficiency did I realize His sufficiency.  …….God has no second-best.  This is very often a contradiction of terms.   If I am in God’s will, then at once He restores me.   It is always present to Him, so at the moment of restoration, I am in His present will for me……The present may well be different from the ‘might-have-been’, it may well be affected by the consequences of previous disobedience and sin which can leave their mark on both character and circumstance, but nevertheless, it is the best in the immediate now.   I have tound this to be a most liberating and glorious truth.  If it were not so, who among us would not live his life in an atmosphere of continual regret?

How big is your Kingdom? How big is your God?

2Corinthians 3:5   Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God

Romans 8:16-18   The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.   For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

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