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Sweetness in Suffering 4/22/11

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Mountain View

“A mountain view can literally take your breath away. Getting a clearer view of God can do the same. Here at the Warming House, you’ll find truth that will help you know and understand who God is and how He feels about you. What you find here may cause you to live your life a little differently. “

Suffering. It’s something none of us desire for ourselves. We question why it’s allowed to exist in this world and we want to know who to blame for it. It can make us angry, frustrated, impatient, and it can hurt like hell.

Bonfire Memorial at Texas A&M
– The Warming House

As we approach Easter Sunday, I’ve been thinking a lot about the suffering of Christ in His final week on earth. His suffering is something that really resonates with me this year. You see, during the past two years my husband and I have been severely damaged by betrayal, vicious persecution, slander, heartache, and loss. Three separate and extraordinary crises occurred during this season of hardship, and the healing process was hindered by the fact that we didn’t have time to process one crisis when another came crashing down on top of us. As I stomped my feet, whined, and moaned before God, He graciously did something that helped me tremendously. He tenderly reminded me of the suffering of my precious Savior.

In my vehement dislike of adversity and my desire to run away from it, God reminded me that Jesus Christ did not run from suffering. He intentionally chose it, pursued it, embraced it, and endured it.

Statue of Jesus at site of
Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial
He was spit on, slandered, beaten, flogged mercilessly, hated, persecuted, betrayed, abandoned by those closest to Him, unjustly condemned, and nailed to a cross. He knew heartache and what it meant to be physically weary, weak, and frail. On the cross, He experienced rejection, humiliation, total frustration, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, desperation, uncertainty, bewilderment, confusion, insecurity, loneliness, oppression, torture, and abuse.  As He became our sin, God poured His full and complete wrath out on Him – a terrifying thought. Christ bore it so that we wouldn’t have to. (2 Cor. 5:21) Our natural inclination is to avoid suffering. His natural inclination was to embrace it. By embracing it, Jesus equipped Himself to be the exact kind of leader we need. He gets it. He’s been there. He knows what we’re up against.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death . . . For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement, for the sins of the people.” Hebrews 2:14-15, 17
He also knew suffering was necessary in order for Him to break us from the claws of sin and put us in good standing with God. The movie, the Passion of the Christ, depicts Jesus, broken and beaten, crawling up onto the cross. The soldiers didn’t drag Him kicking and fighting. He willingly dragged His battered body up on it and laid Himself down. Knowing His heart, I imagine that’s exactly how it happened.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” John 10:17-18
“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” John 12:27-28
God also reminded me of Christ’s perfection. Jesus was perfect in His faithfulness and obedience to God. He never did anything wrong – ever. He was utterly blameless and lived a selfless life doing only good things.
‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was in his mouth.’” 1 Peter 2:22

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19

It is impossible for me to say the same about myself. I am a sinner – imperfect in every way. Am I better than Christ? Do I deserve better treatment in this life than He received? The thought of Christ’s holiness and the unjust treatment He endured on my behalf, soothed the frustration chafing my soul about the injustices against us.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

Suffering wasn’t the end of the road for Jesus. When He said, “It is finished,” it was not a cry of defeat but a shout of victory. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind was finished. Christ’s purpose on earth was finished. The pioneers of the Christian faith had been trained. All was complete. Three days later, Christ rose from the grave and moved on to glory!

 

“He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even to death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Phil. 2:8-11
The power of God that brought Christ back to life now lives in those who follow Him. That power is big enough to resurrect not only your life and your relationship with God, but also your damaged and broken heart. Those who share in His suffering, also share in His eternal glory. (Romans 8:17)

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.

God specifically used the pain in my life to help me understand in a brilliant and vivid way the gravity of Christ’s sacrifice. It is difficult for me to comprehend how anyone knowingly walked head-on into that kind of suffering (and worse) for me. As I took my wounded heart to God and shared my struggles honestly with Him, He gave me insight that left me feeling deeply and passionately LOVED! He is the sweetness in my suffering.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 1 John 3:16
Thank you for stopping by The Warming House. Be encouraged on your journey with the knowledge that God is with you everywhere you go. Until we meet again . . .

Stay warm and cozy,

Lisa

One Comment

  1. Anna says:

    Lisa,
    May God continue to Bless you! Thank you for your words and the reminder of how little our suffering is compared to our Lords. At times when we are at our lowest and have been hurt by people close to us, it is easy to forget and question why…thank God we have his Hope and Grace and never ending Love to get us over these low points.
    Thank you for opening my eyes to the horrific trafficing of those children. Being a mother of an angel, I can't imagine seeing her in such a terrible place…may we all take up the charge and find new ways we can help to stop this terrible crime.
    May God wrap his loving arms around these lost children and may they be able to find hope at these dark times. My prayers are with them.
    Bless you Lisa (and Mike) for your work you continue to do for our Lord!
    Anna Eager
    HOAC 59

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