Friday, July 24, 2009

Is All Suffering for the Lord?

It's been a rough season for me. I've been suffering various physical challenges for the past 6 weeks that are really wearing on me emotionally and spiritually. I am weary and worn, feel like I'm stuck in the spin cycle and every time it looks like it might be ending, somebody turns the machine back on for another round. I've realized about myself something that has been true for a long time, but I've never been able to put into words before: Whenever I'm facing long bouts of adversity, my tendency is to just shut down, stop doing anything. It's a challenge for me to get out of bed every day and fulfill my very basic responsibilities, much less do anything that isn't absolutely necessary. So then I start feeling useless and guilty, just adding to the ridiculous emotional roller coaster.

There is no way for me to end the challenges myself, but something has to give here. My old idols that God has been working to free me from (vaguely referenced here a few months ago) are beckoning loudly telling me to come to them for comfort. And I've worn a permanent groove in the couch where I lay there for most of the day whenever Elias is napping. I'm a disappointment to myself and to those who care about me and depend on me, and it has to stop.

But I don't know how. I just don't have the ability to pull myself up by my bootstraps - I feel like somebody has just ripped off my bootstraps so there's nothing to even try to pull up on. My only hope is to throw myself at God's mercy and believe that He'll catch me there. But I've realized over the past couple days that I'm MAD at Him. For allowing all this crap into my life one thing after another, for making me so weak and foolish to not be able to bear these burdens that when I look at them rationally are SO LIGHT compared to anything else that anybody else suffers. Why can I not handle this?

So then this week in Bible study (Beth Moore's Daniel), she talked about selflessly enduring suffering for God's glory. The Lord used that to speak to my heart that I haven't even considered that He might be wanting to use this particular suffering for His glory. I just don't see how He could or would. I mean, if He asked me to move my family overseas and live a cross-cultural life for His glory, that would be hard, but I'd gladly go because I can obviously see how His glory could shine by my faithfully enduring that challenge. However, when He asks me to endure chronic back pain for His glory, that doesn't make sense to me. How can He be glorified by that? It, in fact, prevents me from being able to do things that according to my reason would much better glorify Him. The word He spoke to me on that regard is pretty much that He isn't asking me to apply my reason here - what He wants is my faith.

In my thinking about this, of course the Scriptures that God has brought to my mind are from Job. All that he endured didn't make a lick of sense, but God was glorified in his response.
So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. His wife said to him, "Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!" He replied, "You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?" In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. ~ Job 2:7-10

"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." ~ Job 13:15
That definitely doesn't make any sense, but it's the kind of response that God is pleased with and so I need to take a lesson from it.

So I guess I'm posting all this to ask for your prayers - not necessarily that God will bring me physical healing or even understanding about my challenges, but more that I'll find spiritual healing and renewed communion with the Lord. Instead of drowning in self-pity and my own skewed sense of personal injustice, I need greater faith in His sovereignty over my physical state and greater trust in His goodness that all suffering is given for a reason, even if I don't get it.

And I would love to hear any thoughts or comments, especially from any of you that may have walked this road before and can share personal experiences. I want to pass this test of my faith, and I want God to be glorified through it.


Jeannie said...

oh, Girl! My heart aches for you. I started to type out a comment but realized it was going to be very long and very personal, so I am going to work on an email to send you instead. Know that I am praying for you!

Ava Sophia said...

This is Diana, your dad was my SC in Poland. I just wanted to point you to 2 Cor 1:3-11. There are several key verses but notice where Paul said in verse 9 "...this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God.." I spent time on this passage and came to find that the comfort that Paul speaks of is not relief from suffering but relief from anxiety of suffering, replacing it with spiritual refreshment and strength to endure. This is the glory God gets - He is strong when you are weak. God is tender and close to the brokenhearted. And also, beware of spiritual warfare; don't take off your armor. Be encouraged. (Ava Sophia is my daughter's name (blog about her)).

Nicki W. said...

oh girl. don't we ALL feel this way if we are truly honest? i am the same way. when god gives me any sort of adversity, i retreat within and get sad, or angry too. i think your honesty is wonderful. i think He understands that. He welcomes your cries. however, you will learn something from this and rejoice in it. keep praying. keep asking. keep trusting. even when you don't understand!! i know you will! i am praying for you, friend!!!!

Jessica said...

I've been through a long bout of anger towards God. When you're here, we can talk about the specifics if you want. So many things happened that I didn't understand and didn't think was fair.

God spoke to me through the Toby Mac song that goes "I don't want to gain the whole world and lose my soul." (That's probably a Bible verse, too, but I was listening to the song.) That made me think, "is whatever that's making me angry, whatever is causing me to lose my faith, is that worth losing my soul?" Of course, the answer is no.

So I had to come to the point of "God is God and I am not." He knows things I don't know, He has goals I don't understand. And I have to be OK with that.

I still haven't regained that "in love with God" relationship, but I'm learning so much about my own incorrect notions and ideals. I'm still on the journey. So are you. I love you!