I’ve attempted to write this blog five times. I could not understand why I was having such difficulty until I realized that I was avoiding my “real” feelings on the subject at hand. Yes. I am gleefully suffering in Jesus name. Sure, I am counting it all joy. But, and it’s one of those big “but’s” that cannot be ignored, I want to see something happening like right now. That is the fact that I was afraid to admit to the blogosphere, but rather than fear my feelings, I will bring them to God, confess them to fellow believers, and then defeat them with the Word of truth. I get leery when I get into this mood simply because It is contrary to everything I believe. We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). What exactly do I want to see? I want to see the waters of my oppressive situation standing up at the hand of my God as my feet triumphantly walk on dry ground through my figurative Red Sea of difficulty, lack, and impossibility. When do I want to see it? I want to see it now. Despite the urgency that I feel every moment of every day, God’s has His own timing. I hear the spirit speaking. Your focus is off. My focus should not be on when God will part the sea but rather on the God of the sea. I quickly am reminded of Paul and Silas. They could’ve lamented and bemoaned about their persecution or focused on the prison doors that remained ostensibly closed.
And after striking them with many blows, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to guard them securely. On receiving this order, he placed them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly a strong earthquake shook the foundations of the prison. At once all the doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Acts 16:23-26
If Paul and Silas became fixated on what they saw, they could’ve easily become agitated and discouraged at the locked prison doors or the guard that enclosed them. If Paul and Silas took my former approach and focused on what they saw, they may have missed the miracle. Refusing to be intimidated by appearances they considered another realm and saw God. Paul and Silas entered the spirit realm via praise. This vehicle of praise carried them away from their troubles into the spirit realm until they could visualize themselves as free in Jesus name. Who the Son sets free, is free indeed (John 8: 36). Of course, we are very human to want to see the prison doors opened but we cannot live in a continual state of “Why won’t these doors just open!” Additionally, it would be to our gain not to get too comfortable in prison, as it is a temporary place where God has us until He hears that sound that says that we are ready to move to our next place of blessing.
Getting comfortable in temporary places could happen to any of us. I know that God has made my life very uncomfortable until I grasped that I was holding on to a dead thing. Once I let the temporary place be a conduit for more praise, worship, and even a motivator to increase my knowledge of God, He moved me from that temporary place. But if all I thought about was “When will these stubborn doors open?” then I would remain in that place longer until my focus shifted. The sin in wanting to “see” something happen is that we take our eyes off Him and put them on the situation, forgetting that He is the God of the situation.
What was there to sing about as Paul and Silas were bound in prison with no viable means of escape? They had already been beaten with “many blows,” what would make believers sing unto the Lord under those conditions? Well, it’s the same things that should make us sing when we are wrongfully imprisoned by situations, treated unfairly, suffering on any level, ridiculed, and inundated with lack, God promised to supply all our needs, protect us, and vindicate us from our enemies. These promises from the Lord are what we say we believe but the truth about how much we believe God shines forth when we are attacked.
For instance, when I have been wrongfully imprisoned by situations, if I do not believe with everything in me that God is going to provide recompense for the harm caused and I will come out better than I went in, I will suffer with my head hung low, a bad attitude, feelings of intense sorrow, and woe. But to the contrary, if I believe that I am suffering for righteousness sake because God is well pleased with me than I can keep my head up, maintain a positive attitude, even sing praises unto God, and control my feelings rather than allowing my feelings to control me.
Many do not give much thought to their poise in their suffering. Sometimes it is impossible to maintain composure as the pain is so unbearable that our flesh cries out before we can even think about applying etiquette to our statement, such as “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” Psalm 22:1a Jesus knew that he wasn’t forsaken, but the pain was so intolerable, He felt so grieve stricken those were the only words that he could get out at that moment. He had other words from the cross, I used those words to point out how if Jesus felt abandoned by God, knowing He wasn’t, surely at times we will also.
My goal is to have my feelings under my employ. Far too often I have done what my feelings have told me to rather my feelings doing what I tell them to. Even if I feel abandoned, knowing that I am not, I am going to praise God, talk to Him, and trust Him more. The worse thing one can do when he or she feels abandoned is act abandoned. As for the title of this blog, “The Joy in Suffering,” there is much.
In church, yesterday, I learned that immediately after Jesus received God’s approval after being baptized, he was “driven” into the wilderness for testing. Two things about yesterday’s message prance around in my heart.
- God’s approval of me is confirmed
- My promotion from God is certain
I cannot number how many times Satan has tried to get me to be consumed with who approves of me. To his joy, the odds are always against me. Per my enemy, I do not have the favor of men but according to Jesus blood, I have the favor of God. Yesterday, the guest speaker blessed my soul regarding God’s approval. I’m sure he is privy in the spirit to know how much the body of Christ needed that message. I quickly ran to the altar for prayer. I spoke several things over my life yesterday in agreement with the Holy Ghost.
- No longer will I seek approval and validation from mere men.
- I know who I am
- I will conquer my flesh so that I can reach the next level in Christ
- This wilderness I am in is just preparation for my kingdom assignment
- I am delivered from the trauma of my youth
- My identity is restored
These truths are why suffering is so joyous. It is the pliability of my heart that hardship has produced which prompted me to declare what God has been saying all along over my life. The hardness of life’s circumstances removes the hardness out of our hearts so that the purposes of God can prevail. Jesus suffered so that we could be free; we suffer in preparation for something greater.
“My suffering was good for me, for it taught me to pay attention to your decrees.” Psalm 119:71
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