Across my cell phone screen I read the words from my husband. . .
“Honey, I’m so, so sorry. Melissa’s kitty was killed sometime last night. I found him on my way out to work this morning. Tell her I am sorry. I know how much she loved him. It breaks my heart. I don’t want my kids to know such sadness. That is what really bothers me. I try to protect them from pain. . .and it still finds them.”
“I try to protect them from pain. . .and it still finds them.”
It was just yesterday on his birthday. I woke in excitement to text him a big mushy Happy Birthday message when I read those words instead. “What an awful way to start a birthday,” I thought to myself. We met for his birthday lunch and in our heart to heart conversation, I paused to really think about what my husband had said. Those words. I try to protect them from pain. My husband is not a huge fan of cats. But his daughters are. . .and the grief and suffering they were going to endure was too much for him that day. He was physically grieved at their grief.
So, is this what God feels when I am grieved? He is after all, my Father. I am his baby girl. Does He hurt when I hurt? The answer? Absolutely! I believe our Heavenly Father is truly grieved over our physical, emotional and spiritual pains and suffering. God does not enjoy our suffering, but a fallen world requires it.
We live in a world where the Lion does indeed eat the Lamb. . .
Because of our fallen world to sin, we are all at one time or another touched by suffering in this life. But praise be to our great God. . .he did as promised. He is trust worthy. . .He made a way for those who have accepted him, believed, repented and have become His children. Jesus paid the ultimate price on the cross for each one of us. He suffered for our eternal freedom. Jesus is our way to a new and perfect eternal life. One day the Lion will lay down with the lamb. Our suffering on this earth is momentary but reaps eternal benefits.
Why are we to suffer?
The great age old question. #1: We endure our suffering on this earth to be witnesses for others that they may see Christ in us. When we suffer and give God the Glory, we show a peek of Christ. . .the fruit of labor. Jesus is at the center of our suffering.
” …we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:2b-5 ESV
#2: We suffer to be like Christ. The Bible tells us clearly that we can count on suffering in this lifetime if we choose to follow Christ. So why suffer for Christ? First. . .let me tell you that I am never more near my Lord then when I am in a season of suffering. I wish it wasn’t that way. I wish I had the make of the individual that believes, endures and has hope without constantly being cast into the furnace. But this is me. . .and my Father knows me. He often has to put my feet to the fire to get me to cry out to him. . .to be closer to him and ultimately. . .grow and love Him more.
“Our adventure was to go down the road
of knowing God in suffering as far as it would take us.”
-When God Weeps, Joni Eareckson Tada / Steven Estes
Later that day, I sat down bedside by Melissa. Poor baby. She had been in bed for over a week suffering from a horrible virus turned bacterial infection. She endured an allergic reaction to her antibiotic and now I was gonna have to tell her that her kitty was gone. She played with that kitty every day. She brushed him, fed him, held and loved on him. Talk about kicking someone while their down. But I knew I had to tell her.
She never cried. She said she was sad and began scrolling through pictures she took herself of him. From his nursing moments to his final days. . .she had it all recorded and smiled through the memories.
“Melissa, you know that Jesus is sad for you, right?” “Yeah,” she said smiling. Her sweet soft voice sings praises to her Jesus. She loves him so much and seems to suffer so much. But she loves Jesus and trusts Him fully. Perhaps that is my issue. Perhaps I simply do not trust the Lord my God.
“Faith is believing that God is telling the truth.”- Tope Koleoso
#3, Finally, I believe the Lord leads us through pastures of suffering for our very own good. This is actually incredibly hard for me to write today as I have been wading through our very own rough patch this week. My husband, a farmer, was injured and will need surgery. In pain, he cannot effectively work. He is now limited in his abilities. And for him, that is an intense suffering. The costs of a surgery when we are in the process of adoption, added to a little girl trying to get well and then followed last night by one of our teenagers that is suffering from complex migraines.
Honestly. . .there was a moment today when I grabbed Phil’s hand and cried out to my Father, “please Lord, pull me from the fire. I cannot endure!”
Phil still needs surgery. . .Jacob still has migraines. . .Melissa still lost her kitty. . .and we still will have go on working. But you know what? God answered me. Still in my suffering- He held me close. He wrapped His great healing arms around me and said, “Sandi. . .my dearest daughter. . .I LOVE you, I created you, I died for you. . .and I will hold you through this. TRUST ME! I delivered my children from slavery in Egypt. . .I parted the Red Sea. . .I provided Manna and water and a way. I will keep you in the fire until you are purified. . .pretty. . .pliable. . .and I will remove you and protect you as to mold you but not harm you.”
Just as I held my child and told her she would grieve her kitty. . .Just as I held my husband’s hand and said, “Yes, you will have pain, but I am here and I will take care of you in your recovery.” My great God will hold my hand through this fire. I will walk unharmed to the other side. And the purpose will be to get to know my sweet God more than I did before. I will know the feel of his gentle yet strong arm. . .I will close my eyes and follow his footsteps to safer ground. I will get the awesome opportunity to SEE His face. . .His promises and His great rescue!
I will know my Shepherd and I will hear His voice and follow.
God is certainly not enjoying my tears today. As a matter of fact. . .every tear is gathered and bottled for my joy in Him in Heaven. I can tread these waters. . .walk the bumpy path and smile. Because He is there to catch me, lead me, guide me and protect me. And as I walk in Faith and trust His plan for me. . .He smiles as I let go of my grip and fall into His will for me. . .for my good and His glory. For I know WHOM I have believed and He will never let me down!
“which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
-2 Timothy 1:12