Embracing Suffering

Last October, we attended the Piper/Desiring God conference on "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God". At that time, we knew that we would soon be leaving to go overseas and that with that would come many opportunities to watch other people suffer for the Lord's causes, and that we ourselves might encounter suffering. While there, we met Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint, and heard him speak of the blessings that have come in his life from the spearing of his father in South America. We saw Joni Earickson Tada dance in her wheelchair. (This picture of us with John Piper was taken by Justin Taylor, no foolin!)

Just over one year later, here I sit (in a Central Asian city, without my husband of over 6 years, the father of my 3 children, and love of my life, because he's on a flight with 2 friends to Hong Kong while the kids & I stay here) praying that we will find out the reason for his near collapse this weekend and his continuing debilitating exhaustion, muscle fatigue, and extreme joint pain. Now, we have the opportunity to put some of what we learned last year into practice. What can we do to bring honor to God in this time?

We can listen to, soak in, and TRUST God's Word.
This time around, here 2 parts of His Word have been particularly meaningful to me:

Psalm 77

I cry out to God without holding back...
When I was in deep trouble, I searched for the Lord…
There can be no joy for me until He acts.
I recall all you have done, O LORD;
I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts; I cannot stop thinking about them.
O God, your ways are holy. Is there any god as might as You?
You are the God of miracles and wonders! You demonstrate Your awesome power among the nations.

Isaiah 43, 44, 45, 46

(43:1-3) The LORD who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the LORD, your GOD, the Holy One of Israel, Your Savior.

(44:3) “I will give you abundant water to quench your thirst and to moisten your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit and my blessings on your children.

(45:4-11) “ … I am the One Who sends good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the One Who does these things.” … This is what the LORD, the Creator and Holy One of Israel, says: “Do you question what I do? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?”

(46:3-10) “I created you and have cared for you since before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you. … Do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God—I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.”

We can be intentional about NOT WASTING this opportunity to honor God.

(John Piper wrote in this same spirit in his letter before the day of his surgery to remove his prostate cancer, "Don't Waste Your Cancer".)

We can WAIT upon Him, confident that whatever the outcome, it will be good, because it is GOD's.


CappuccinoLife said...

Oh wow! May God give the doctors wisdom and sharp minds for helping your husband. And may He be with you while you wait for answers!!

ColoradoColumbine said...

My thoughts and prayers will be with you, your little ones and your husband during this time.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jess!!!
I am new to your blog and wanted to let you know that I will pray for your husband.

Also, where are you in Asia? We will be in China in a few months to adopt our little girl. Are you anywhere near? If so, maybe we could meet up!!

Mrs. U

Anonymous said...

I find it wonderful that the questions you are asking are leading you to the truths of the Catholic Church. Regarding suffering, it has been said that many people are willing to follow Jesus to Heaven but not too many are prepared to follow Him to Calvary :) God gives us many graces if we offer up our sufferings through His passion for the redemption of sinners. Perhaps you could search through www.ewtn.com for what the Catholic Church teaches about both birth control and suffering.
God bless you and your family,