Friday, January 06, 2006

The Path of Suffering

In the past month or so, I have been reading "Desiring God" by John Piper. It always amazes me how the Lord puts people/books/things in your life to reinforce the things He is teaching you. As I reread my past blog entries, I was amazed at the continual theme...God's sovereignty. However another theme I noticed was I do tend to talk often of the loss of our son Nathan a few months ago when I was 15 and a half weeks into my pregnancy. These themes have been my focus the last few months because that is what I am learning...that is what I am seeing about God. The last chapter in "Desiring God" is titled "Suffring: The Sacrifice of Christian Hedonism". This chapter, needless to say, brought much contemplation as well as comfort. In it, Pastor Piper converses about the life of Paul as being a life of chosen suffering. Then he continued on to talk about whether or not their is a difference between suffering we choose and suffering we don't choose, such as cancer. I really, really appreciated what he wrote in that reguard. I would like to share it with you now.

"The suffering that comes is part of the price of living where you are in obedience to the call of God. In choosing to follow Christ in the way He directs, we choose all that this path includes under His sovereign providence. Thus, all suffering that comes in the path of obedience is suffering with Christ and for Christ-whether it is cancer or conflict. And it is "chosen"- that is, we willingly take the path of obedience where the suffering befalls us and we do not murmer against God. We may pray-as Paul did-that the suffering be removed (II Corinthians 12:8); but if God wills, we embrace it in the end as part of the cost of discipleship in the path of obedience on the way to heaven." (pg. 256-257)

This was such an encouragement to me. Sometimes I often feel that the trials in my life are not as big as say someone being persecuted physically for Christ. I can't imagine their suffering and yet, as I deal with the situations in my life, such as losing a child, I am partaking of suffering with and for Christ as I embrace it as part of the cost of following Christ even as they are. Not only that, but Pastor Piper continues to say that the purpose for all suffering is the same: " more contentment in God and less satisfaction in self and the world." (pg. 265)
As we learn to make Him our ultimate satisfaction and our ultimate treasure and goal, Pastor Piper goes on to say the following:

"If we rely on Him in our calamity and He sustains our 'rejoicing in hope', the He is shown to be the all-satisfying God of grace and strength that He is. If we hold fast to Him 'when all around our soul gives way,' then we show that He is more to be desired than all we have lost." (pg. 266)

That is what we should desire for others to see- that He is enough. That He is all they will ever need.
For me this has been a tremendous encouragement. I am learning that God truly is all that I need, that it is He alone who can satisfy. I know it in my heart and soul, and yet I know my life doesn't always say that...especially lately as longing for a child has been so great a yearning that I have felt like Hannah beseaching the Lord to grant my request (although unlike her, I have two beautiful daughters). However, as I continue to strive to die to self and to live a joyful life reveling in the greatness and goodness of my Sovereign God, I pray that others will see that He is enough. That He will meet and supply every single need, want, desire they may have with the best thing of all- Himself.
It is my deepest prayer that as I go on seeking to trust and obey God that others will see in me, through the Grace of God, that He alone is all I will ever need. I found this quote, I don't remember where, and when I penned it in my quote book, I see the author's name is unknown. I have a feeling that this author experienced some of the same sorrowful sufferings as I and I know he or she was learning that our Lord truly is enough. I pray that this will be my hearts desire as I go on life's road and that you will find the same desire in your heart as well.

"'Tis far, far better to let Him choose
The way that we should take
If only we leave our lives to Him
He will guide without mistake.
We in our blindness would never choose
A pathway dark and rough
And so we should ever find in Him
'The God who is enough.'"
~Author Unknown

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