As I lay here with my son at 5:30 in the a.m., cuddling a wide-awake three-year-old back to sleep, my mind is flooded with friends' cyber comments and blogs about profound discoveries through their trials throughout the recent days and seasons of their lives. I hearken back to one of my blog entries regarding how wimpy my generation is and think about how struck my friends and I are with the audacity of Suffering taking up residence in our homes.
The many Facebook comments I read from other moms about the challenges of parenting, my Facebook comments about the challenges of parenting, other friends posting about profound trials and struggles, and even the many who admit they are surprised by God's sovereign plan in those trials, take me aback with shame for my generation's narcissistic outlook. Yet, the fact that God is not leaving us to our narcissism - that He is changing our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, exposing our hearts to true joy by wounding our spirits - is comforting.
The juxtaposition of Suffering and Joy...is this a new idea? Perhaps for my generation, yes, it is....but then...didn't Christ teach this? Didn't the apostles write about this? So....why is this new to us? Or, maybe more accurately, why don't we believe the Bible regarding this topic? And, may I submit, why is this not taught to us at our churches? Has the "Celebration Service" replaced the "Lord's Day Refreshment to Your Souls" service?
Have I spent my whole life dodging Suffering? Ignoring Suffering? Scoffing in Suffering's face? Have I spent my life trying to find alternate uses for scripture? Or trying to apply scripture innovatively, as if there's something new under the sun and I am a one-of-kind girl?
James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." Is this merely a good suggestion? Because this is certainly not my attitude, nor anyone else's I know, when a trial - life-altering or momentarily pesky - threatens my entitlements. Pure joy. Pure.
I suppose if I really desired sanctification I would be rejoicing in, even seeking, Suffering to be my companion, in order that my faith would be steadfast, that the dross which covers me would be burned off, that God's gold would shine more completely. But I would rather hold on to my sinful entitlements, my ease and creature comforts - my idols.
Thankfully, my Lord does send Suffering to take up residence in my home. Thankfully, our Lord desires a pure bride in His people more than we do. He will accomplish His purposes to purify us, His bride, and cause us to persevere to the end. I suppose if our purposes reflected His will, we wouldn't really experience Suffering at all. We would gladly wear His robes of meekness and humility, losing our lives willingly, that we might find true life. In fact that which looks like Suffering, might actually not appear that way to us if we readily rejoiced in God's purposes to transform our sinful states into holiness. If we really wanted holiness, we would rename Suffering! Calling her...Joy.
My son is finally back to sleep at 6:30 a.m. Alas I am wide awake. I suppose I can choose to look at this minor inconvenience as suffering for lack of sleep, or joy in the fact that more dross is being devoured in the Holy fire.