Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reflecting on Suffering

I don't have words of my own yet. I'm still processing sickness and suffering, having been sick now for two months without much improvement.  I have a long term autoimmune illness and am having to take pretty strong medication with unpleasant side effects.  And I am contemplating what  good God will bring out of this time He is leading me through.  I know He is good and that He is allowing this time.  I'm so thankful for lessons He has taught me over the past few years. I'm not sure how I would be responding without those lessons.  I think I probably would be mad at Him and question Him, wondering what He is doing and why He is allowing this.  I have wondered why.  I'm not sure I will know yet.  But I do know that God is good and He loves me.  And so I'm learning to trust Him again in a new way.  These two months have been a challenge, but I believe  He is taking me through this to teach me something more.
      As I've been resting, I have been listening to various people on Youtube. People who have endured great suffering and walked through in victory and growth.  Joni Eareckson Tada is someone I have particularly enjoyed listening to. A friend lent me Joni's book called Joni. I've been encouraged as I read her book.  She wrote more than 30 years ago.
     Since I am few on words right now, I want to write down Joni's words that touched me as I read this evening.  Hope they are encouraging to you in some way, as they were with me.  Joni is a quadriplegic  unable to move anything below her shoulders.  She has been through incredible suffering, and God has proven faithful even when He allowed more suffering on top of suffering.  After a disappointing break up with a man she thought she would marry, Joni writes:

      "During the fall of 1972, I began to have serious questions about my future, 'Lord,' i asked, 'if not college, if not Donald, then what? What do You have for me?"'    I believed that if God took something away from me, He would always replace it with something better.  My experience has taught me this as I relied on the sovereignty of God.  'Delight thyself in God,' the psalmist said, 'trust n His way.' As I did so, I became easier to express true gratitude for what He brought into my life -- good as well as suffering.
     "The suffering and pain of the past few years had been the ingredients that has helped me mature emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I felt confident and independent, trusting in the Lord for my physical and emotional needs.
     "Pain and suffering have purpose.  We don't always see this clearly.  The apostle Paul suffered for Christ  His experience included imprisonment, beatings, stonings, shipwreck and some physical 'thorn in the flesh.'  The blessing of suffering is, as J.B. Phillips interprets Romans 5:3-5, '...we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles.  Taken in the right spirit, these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.'     I believed He was working in my life to create grace and wisdom out of  the the chaos of pain and depression."

--excerpt from Joni, by Joni Eareckson, 1976, pp.189,190

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