Sunday, February 1, 2015

does pain have to be part of the package???

"I grew up with a health disability that would have prevented me from ever going to college, obtaining a job, or living a long, normal life. Before God mercifully delivered me from it, he graciously delivered me through it. Many days and nights I laid in the darkness of my room in much pain and nausea, praying in the silence that God would give me the sustaining grace to preach the gospel to the nations. I started pre-seminary at the age of 5 when God sent me my wisest and most influential teacher: affliction. Through his loving discipline, God taught me about his sovereign goodness and inscrutable wisdom. 
Having grown up facing much affliction, and having learned well the theology of suffering under a sovereign God, I was still na├»ve to how unrelenting and inexplicable are the trials of the missionary life. If not for the doctrine of God’s wise sovereignty in suffering, I would never have made it. Long-term missions can indeed be a place of excitement and adventure; however, it is also inescapably a place of adversity and barrenness. It is moreover the land of self-emptying and learning to laugh at yourself; learning to think, feel, dream, and reason in a foreign language; learning to enjoy the adopted family of Christ in light of distant relationships back home; learning to keep silent in the face of stiff criticism from those who once supported you; learning to eat the Word of God as your daily food; learning to pray for your wife and children because their lives literally depend upon it; and learning to navigate wisely on the path of self-denial amid a global culture immersed in self-indulgence, self-promotion, and self-preservation.
I would soberly admonish any missionary candidate that the mission field is not all romance and radical adventure; it is also mingled with heartbreak, loss, and self-denial. But therein we discover God’s boundless love and wise providence. C. S. Lewis said in in his poem As the Ruin Falls, “The pains You give me are more precious than all other gains.” Perhaps D. A. Carson says it best in his excellent book on suffering, How Long, O Lord?: Reflections on Suffering and Evil:
The more the leaders are afflicted with weakness, suffering, perplexity, and persecution, the more it is evident that their vitality is nothing other than the life of Jesus. This has enormously positive spiritual effects on the rest of the church. The leaders’ death means the church’s life. This is why the best Christian leadership cannot simply be appointed. It is forged by God himself in the fires of suffering, taught in the school of tears. There are no shortcuts.
God loves his servants so much that he allows them to suffer, so that his grace will sustain them in order to make his glory known. Our weakness is the God-ordained instrument through which the Holy Spirit fills us with the power of Christ."     
UM!!!!!  WOW!!!!!  Just read that in an article called, "The Missionary Life No Shortcuts"  Honestly couldn't have put it into better words myself. 
When we choose to obey God and follow in His will we are not promised easy sailing and blue clear skies all the time!  That is why scripture tells us we have to DAILY pick up our crosses and follow Christ.  But it is in that school of suffering and pain where we learn the reality of the peace of God and his un ending joy and mercy!  
We have had moments where we have had to trust God for our next in "Lord there is NO FOOD!!!!  What are you going to do about it!?"   My marriage went through the ringer so bad at one point I thought there was no way we were going to make it!  I was afraid we were going to end up a statistic they talk about in missions classes on how to avoid life altering mistakes on the missions field.   My kids have had sicknesses at one point or another that have caused me to get angry at God "LORD I OBEYED YOU AND CAME HERE WHY ARE YOU TAKING IT OUT ON MY BABIES!!!!?????"   I have gotten in my car and screamed and wept until blood vessels broke in my neck.  "GOD WHERE ARE YOU IN ALL THIS!?"
NEVER ONCE in seven years of living in faith on the mission field have I had to send my babies to bed hungry!  
My marriage is strong and stable today!  Luis and I are best friends!  We laugh together, we work together, we pray together.  We do life together, and we do it pretty well! (note that I didn't say perfectly)  We have been to the edge of the cliff and almost lost our family because of it, and God delivered us!!! I love my husband and thank God for him every day! 
My children have seen the healing hand of God in each one of their lives!!!  They KNOW that God heals!  They KNOW God loves them and cares about them because of the trials God has brought them through!  Jesus has to work his testimony in their lives as well!  They know the power of prayer! 
God fights for us!  God is on our side!  The Peace of God that passes all understanding WILL and DOES guard our hearts and minds in Jesus Christ!  How do I know? 
Because Jesus has walked through all the hard times and the disappointments and the loneliness with me.  He has never looked down at me for my humanity. He has loved me through it all and never lets go of my hand.  
There is something profound that happens to our faith when we have NOTHING to depend on, no back up plan...when all we have is our faith in Jesus and a trust in his promises.   When we literally have no choice but to pray "Lord you PROMISED you would prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies!  So, I am believing that in the presence of my doubts, fears, worries and anxiety you are going to fill my children's bellies and keep them safe your peace".  
There is no peace or security outside the loving arms of Jesus!  There are no shortcuts, and yes, as the writer of the above quoted blog said pain definitely is part of the package!  
We can take a cue from Jesus, when he faced the ultimate trial....
Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

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