I mentioned recently how much has changed in my life in the past few months and how much being part of the Bible reading challenge has played a role in that change. The other component to that has been enjoying the study of Romans in our local Bible Study Fellowship group. (Side note: If you aren’t familiar with BSF but would like to be a part of a solid Bible study for women look them up and see if there is one near you. I have thoroughly enjoyed and grown from my participation in ways I didn’t even know I needed.)
We’re in Romans eight right now and just as God seemed to be doing something behind the scenes with the Bible reading challenge I feel like stuff in my mind and heart is being moved and rearranged as a result of the group sharing time and lectures each week. The desire to have my life fall in line with the confessions of who God is and how He expects His children to live is being shaken…the kind of shaken in Psalm 62…the kind of shaken in Hebrews 12 where only that which cannot be shaken will remain.
It’s a glorious and slightly scary place to be.
Lecture last week dealt with the topic of suffering.
It is a foolish thing to deny that suffering happens in our world. You only need to watch about five seconds of the news to see wildfires, earthquakes, draughts, and famines. It’s also a foolish thing to deny that we face suffering in our lives as well. And actually Paul makes the case for suffering by reminding us that in order to be glorified with Him (Christ) then we must also take part in His suffering. In verse eighteen Paul says that his own suffering is not worth even comparing to the glory that awaits. In II Corinthians he refers to light and temporary troubles…this from the man who suffered about every way a person can suffer.
We know there is physical suffering. We get sick. People die. Bones break and skin tears.
We know emotional suffering. Feelings can be hurt and hearts wounded.
We know of mental suffering. We can suffer from depression and breakdowns.
We know relational suffering. We can treat each other horribly and with great unkindness.
We also know internal suffering…feelings of guilt and shame plague us.
I know I have experienced every form of suffering on that list to varying degrees. I also know that in the midst of each one my only hope has been that Christ’ suffering far outweighs mine no matter how devastating my experience, and it is accomplishing a purpose. Somehow, I am being made more into the likeness of His Son through my suffering.
On Sunday our New Testament reading was from Hebrews chapter five. Verse eight jumped off the page at me, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” Emphasis is mine.
His way of learning obedience to the will of the Father was through His suffering. The preceding verse refers to His time of prayer and crying out to the Father in the garden. He suffered with the knowledge of what was to come and through it made His way in obedience to death.
His obedience led to perfection and our eternal salvation and Paul went on to say that there was so much more to say about it but it was hard to explain because his readers had become hard of hearing or sluggish.
I don’t want to be sluggish in my hearing and I want to have a right view of the suffering that comes into my life. I want to lean into it and follow it all the way to obedience to the point of death. Physically if need be but far more likely in the dying of self so that I may love those around me, forgive those around me, to show Him to those around me.
I really want that. Or at least I think I do even though I realize I am asking for it out of certain amount of ignorance of what that could actually mean in reality. But in this I come full circle back to Romans eight and thank God that while I may not be able to pray as I ought the Spirit of God intercedes on my behalf and there is One who searches and knows my heart. On this I can rest. On this I can trust.
Lean into suffering, friend. Embrace it and seek God through it. Because in those valleys He is found and your love is strengthened.