Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Different Perspective on Troubles, Trials and Suffering

It is for my good that I have been humbled; it was so that I would learn your laws.

That's from Psalm 119:71.  I've been reading through that Psalm recently.  It's good meat for spiritual bones.  I "happened" (in quotes because nothing in the life of a follower of Christ just happens) to read it following the last chapter in a book I've been trying to get through for a few years called The Elijah Task: A Call to Today's Prophets and Intercessors.

For the last 2 months or so, I've had a line running through my head.  It is a little graphic, so I will warn you.  The image I got when I received this wisdom was from one of those cycles where every week someone seemed to be sick with something.  As a result, I had throw-up on my mind.  (Sorry, like I said, it's a little graphic).  Such is the life of a Mom, we think about these things, mostly in an effort to either prevent or avoid having to clean it up at all costs.

But the nature of a lot of intestinal distress is because our bodies are trying to get rid of what is making us sick. It's not pretty and is also quite humbling, but our bodies have to get rid of the foreign contaminant.  With all this in mind, this idea was given to me:

If it's going to come out, it has to come up.

I began to think about the trouble we experience as a family, which is often self-created but sometimes a result of living in a fallen world.  It feels a lot like being sick with the stomach flu.  Our natural desire is to do everything in our power to stop, placate, comfort, resolve whatever distressing situation we are in because we want it to just go away.  We just want to feel better.

Nothing wrong with that, unless you consider what is happening inside of you, that is coming up, really needs to come out because it's making you sick.  This very much has spiritual implications.

Working hard to feel better doesn't solve the underlying issue.  We need to admit we are sick and we need to REST.  If all we want all the time is to feel good, we never get healing.  We are only slapping a band-aid on a festering wound.

When Sophia was in treatment, I drank a lot.  I still got up and functioned.  Because of my stress level, my body was burning it off.  But this was not the best choice.  This was not even a remotely healthy choice.  It was a coping mechanism of comfort and it was only when I came to terms with that, I began to heal. 

This idea, of letting things run their course - even if it causes me discomfort (if that is what is required to truly be free of spiritual, mental, emotional AND physical bondage) is probably not popular.  Yet, any bondage I am in must be faced head on if I am to live...and live abundantly in Christ.

Like the Demon-Possessed Man of Mark 5, who was so full of sickness, darkness and junk, we are all in bondage to something.  We are all walking among the tombs of our lives (graves of the past and present tense).  That is, until Jesus comes to us.  That is, until we meet Christ.

{Side note: he is the first person - well, really the demons were the first - to ask for mercy from Jesus.  They don't use that word, but they do ask Him not to give them the treatment they deserve.  And Jesus grants it.  Instead of sending them to hell where they belong, He sends them into a herd of pigs.  (Which doesn't end well either, but probably better than hell I'm guessing.)}

Unless confronted by Christ, that man would have stayed devil-ridden for the rest of his life.  His body would have eventually worn down but he would have stayed in darkness.  It wasn't until those demons were forced to the surface by Jesus' presence, that they came out.  Simply said, They had to come up to come out.

You might be in a hard place right now, by your own making or otherwise.  I do understand you want to just be done with it.  I know hardship and I don't like pain or suffering, but if you are a Christian, we are supposed to be asking the Lord what He is trying to teach us in these lean times.  We are not called to just endure or "suffer well," we are called to be free in Christ, grateful & content regardless of our circumstances.

He is the source of our comfort, our hope.  Not what is going on or how we feel; but Christ We can thank Him for what He is doing in our lives, because our hope is He is going to make good of it.

He is training us, preparing us for the future (good) work we will do for His Kingdom.  The trouble we are in is to teach us complete dependence and maturity in faith.  It is to show us what we are really like behind the masks we choose to put on, so we can finally start to live authentic, grace-filled lives. 

Darkness has to come up and out if the light is to completely fill us.

John Sanford, the author of the book I mentioned earlier, says this about troubles, trials and suffering,
The increase of evil all about us may well be the result of the Holy Spirit at work in the deep mind of mankind, bringing to surface what is really there...Satan's delusions have honeycombed the mind and heart of all mankind and painted white-wash over all.  God knows our hearts are wicked (Matt 15:19).  He knew it all along.  He only wants us to see it, admit it, and be made whole.  Therefore tribulation comes, for though woes are not God's first will, He must send them if men would be made whole. (emphasis mine, pg. 223)
Sanford also goes on to say, it is not that evil is getting worse.  We see the forces of darkness more today because the Holy Spirit is more heavily at work in His saints to prepare them for His purposes.  What a refreshing way to look at what we are facing!

It's not that satan is getting more powerful, people!  The presence of Christ is growing stronger in the world, through the intercession of believers, and the devil can't abide in the presence of Christ.

Some may experience miracles and wonders but others only suffer humiliation.  We can't know what our path is, we can only trust He is leading us in the right direction.  We can trust Our Heavenly Father, in the revelation of His Son and through the power of His Spirit to turn all these present struggles into future glory for Him and good for us.

Maybe you are the one enduring struggle as a result of someone else's internal mess.  You can also trust that what you are seeing is meant to come out.  The Lord is using these current troubles to show you something He wants either out of your life, or theirs.  He wants to show you His power to make a beter way.

There is something that needs to come out, so these troubles are bringing it up.  Then, in His goodness and mercy, He will plant the seed of righteousness and faith that will produce a crop of fruit that pleases Him and satisfies many.

Trust Him to do what is needed, to bring up what needs to come out.  Have patience with yourself and those folks in your life and keep praying.  You will see the fruit of your prayers in them, I promise.

No, even better, God promises!  Let those promises be revealed in your heart, mind and life.

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