At Home with Suffering
by Jack Taylor
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…” Philippians 1:29
Two weeks ago was devastating for my friend. She had lost her wallet and all her credit cards. The weight of the world was on her shoulders as she dealt with the police and made the calls to cancel her life and identity.
With her feet kicked out from under her, the rest of the world took on the form of a growing burden that overwhelmed her.
Fortunately, she had taught her son about Jesus and the truth he gives us. That son confronted her, told her to smarten up and deal with her attitude of getting stuck in an attitude that refused to change and acknowledge God’s control in all she had been through.
My friend had been born in a Christian home and gone to Christian schools in Pakistan. She had been taught the Bible from her earliest days. She was thoroughly marinated in Christianity but sitting across from me she declares “it was not enough.” She knew that life wasn’t meant to be a bed of roses and things have been hard. She knew it didn’t take faith to love God and follow him if the road was smooth. Now she declared again to me. “Every person needs a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and they need to keep walking in that commitment. It’s not enough to say a prayer or live on what you’re taught.”
My friend had always been in control of things. She was confident in her work with children. She was used to being independent. She was taught to be sure as a leader so children could look to her for their strength.
Now she felt helpless.
Previously, she had looked down on others who acted helpless. She didn’t understand the attitude. Now, in her own moment of emotional paralysis over a lost wallet, she began to empathize. She changed from within.
Every morning my friend takes out the Daily Bread and reads. Every morning it says exactly what she needs for that day. On this day it says the glory of life is to love – not so you are loved, to give – not so you get, to save – not so you are saved. This reading and all the ones before this rekindle hope to face another day in personal weakness and godly strength.
My friend says that “faith and life, if they’re smooth, are not functional and they’re not real.” She says “the closer I want to get to God the greater the challenges – the more challenges now the more blessed I feel.”
She know God is in control. She provides an insight when she says “God uses those close to us to probe the areas of our weakness. Because they are close we can’t walk away from them. God loves us and he wants the best for us.”
Her son hit her hard with this statement. “Mom, Jesus gave you a cross to carry. If you’re going to carry it then do it happily.”
What hits you hardest about my friend’s story? Can you relate at all? How do you live your life like Jesus is living in you? Do you think others who see you living are convinced that you serve a risen Savior who is in the world today?
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