Saturday, October 20, 2007

No pain, no gain...

When I was a new Christian I remember reading this verse-- "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10)." Honestly, it freaked me out. I told God I basically didn't want to suffer much more. My youth had been pretty hard and I thought "everything should all be uphill from here..."
But now I've come to see that that it's a very good thing to see and feel my neediness, my brokenness-- it's my ticket to grace. (The sermon at our fellowship this past Sunday was about this too-- how we're all needy, really). I've always known this way down deep, and when I forget, God has a way of re-teaching me.
This brokenness is what continually brings me to my knees, so that He can be my strength. It shows me I can not be self-sufficient. And so I live a life of faith, not perfectly, but devoted to One love. He does remold my dreams time and again; and they are lovely dreams when I can see them. But the life of faith is not seen with human eyes.
The proud shake their heads at the needy and broken, but so what. They don't get it yet and are missing out, afraid of what they don't understand. They don't see their need at all. Don't we tend to judge what we don't understand? We fear what we don't understand and we judge by appearances. We can all look great and act like we've got it together and even say that we do...but what is going on inside, really? That's what God sees. Why do we feel the need to hide who we really are? I don't feel that need, never have been too good at pretending anyway. I am who I am-- flawed but loved, a sinner saved and continually saved. Maybe I could use more wisdom about whom I share my deeper struggles with, but I am not going to hide who I am.
So, when it comes to pain (grief, hardships, struggles, persecution) what I CAN say is that she has been my friend. Maybe not a "fun" friend, but the one that's held the most wisdom. Pain is a welcome friend if that's what it takes. Many of us run from grief and difficulties, but only through these can we grow and truly learn. Ultimately, though, we are to follow the Spirit's leading (I'm not saying be a masochist and look for pain). If we follow Christ, pain will find us-- we'll grieve for and with others, we'll feel the sting of living in a world ruled by Satan (the prince of the air)... How can we not feel pain? How can we not weep? God weeps for all the callous hearts that just won't learn, after every thing He's done and shown. I'm sure God weeps-- The Spirit intercedes with moans and cries too deep for words....(Rom 8:22)
On the other side of pain is a deep and abiding joy, I know it. Pain
comes and unravels us and then Joy surprises us.

"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." (Psalm 126:5)