I have been challenged to understand my own doctrine of suffering. Just in case you are wondering, we all have one. If you are like me, you have never really actually articulated it. This is not a rebellion against my church or any creed I hold. It is a challenge to take what I have been taught and what I have experienced. Bringing it together is the challenge. Stating it so I don’t trip over the words so I can actually understand it and apply it as I live is the challenge!
Now this may sound simple but it is not. What I have been taught and what Scripture says may not line up with what I think or feel about my experiences. A disconnect. So I need to go back and consider what does the Word of God say. Once I figure that out as well as I can, I need to align my beliefs and practices accordingly.
Note the change is made in me, not in the words of God. Yes, there is room for interpretation if that interpretation is done rightly. You know to do what that potentially pesky little verse that exhorts a believer to handle the word rightly. The measuring stick of His Word is the only way ultimately to measure how we are doing.
As a Bible teacher I can tell you it is not uncommon for me or one of my students to actually read the words on the page aloud wrong! And that is not due to any reading difficulties! It is a wonder to behold when the words are read correctly and the understnading is there.
Simply put, we cannot change the words to fit our situation or beliefs. Rather I must change me and I can because He sent us the Holy Spirit.
This idea that I have been entrusted is new for me. A new way of considering why I am suffering. I know it could be because I am hanging on to something I should not like a grudge or shame over behavior. I know it can be because of loss or pain of the heart and body. Yet, I am entrusted to handle it the right way.
There have been certainly been times in my life when I have walked through a difficult season and thought about how God must have allowed a particular trial for my benefit and for His glory. But I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a trial as something that God has entrusted to me, as something that He has put into my care.
And I’ll tell you what: when I was driving down the highway today and started to think about hardships from that particular perspective, it took all of about two minutes before I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.
Because that illness? That grief? That thing you feel like you can’t tell a soul? That relationship that breaks your heart? That physical difficulty? That shame from a long time ago? That whatever-it-is that’s weighing heavy on you right now?
He hasn’t just allowed it. He has entrusted us with it. We are responsible for what we do with it. There is purpose in that thing.
And I don’t know about you, but that has rocked my world all day long.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18