Suffering with Joy
Suffering with Joy
You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
I Thessalonians 1:6
My cancer journey took me to some extreme lows. I remember sitting on my back porch surrounded by the beauty that is my 8 1/2-acre property complete with a pool, hot tub and fire pit, wallowing in fear and suffering. Even though His blessings were all around me, my human nature was focused only on what I felt.
Paul’s epistles talk a lot about suffering for the Lord. Most of Paul’s suffering was very apparent. He, along with many of the other apostles and early followers of Christ, was physically beaten and arrested – and eventually executed – for his faith. Today, at least in western culture, we don’t encounter that kind of suffering for the Lord. In our culture, suffering comes in the form of personal lows or even tragedies.
God, thank you for the relationship your Grace allows with You. Thank you for my story and thank you for letting me experience the peace and joy that come with truly knowing You. Things may not get better in a way I expect, but I have a very real inner peace with You! .
I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s personal suffering. All of our trials are real, but what Paul is trying to relate in the above verse is that in those times, we have a choice to either turn from God, or turn to Him. Paul is famous for showing how turning to God kept him joyful. And if you follow Paul carefully, you’ll see that while he lived a long time, he suffered a lot, but was always joyful in the Lord. He could have very easily have thought, “God, I keep you first in my life, why isn’t it getting any better?” The answer is, because it isn’t about this life getting better. It’s about relationship with God. Paul experienced that at the deepest level.
I may not have experienced suffering at the same level as Paul, but I can say in that moment on my back porch, I asked God to take this cup from me if it was His will. Immediately following that prayer, I felt a peace that I’ve known ever since. Eight years later, I’m still here. Can I say He took the cup? Maybe, but that’s not the point. I can say my relationship with Him has grown every day since.
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