click on spotify link above for the audio recording of this post
The following is an excerpt from the book I’m currently writing called “Nevertheless: Finding Hope in Suffering”. You’ve been so gracious to help me with your prayers and stories for this book – thank you! Thanks be to God for each and every one of you!
Please know that writing this is as hard as reading or hearing this. None of this is said lightly or without much love.
Suffering isn’t in our lives to escape from; it’s in our lives for God’s glory and our growth in grace (see John chapter 9). Suffering isn’t in our lives to be ignored or dismissed; it’s in our lives for pointing us to be thinking of heaven (see Colossians 3:1-2).
Growth in grace isn’t limited to just us directly in the suffering. It should flow outwards to those watching to see what we do and what God does for us here in the suffering. Thus, any vulnerability to lies being accepted and incorporated into the fabric of our faith can be a wide-open door to sin, for us and for those watching us. We must be watchmen on the walls of our lives – be it in what or whom we read, watch, consider, or speak (see Ezekiel 33:1-9). There is no Sabbath for what we let enter our lives. There is no Sabbath for what we let leave our lives. All is to be done in love, be it in word or in action (see 1 John 3:18). I think pain makes us more open to a lie because we just want something to escape from the pain. Pain erodes our walls of defense against lies while building walls against the need to evaluate what is truth. For example, I can far more easily find myself wanting to watch something that’s less-than-acceptable in content when the pain level keeps rising and I’ve been fighting it for longer than expected. This is compounded by believing the lie if I can just relax and watch something entertaining enough to distract from the pain then I can find rest. Similarly, I’ve learned (the hard way) that I’m also more vulnerable to letting something far-less-than-helpful or loving escape from my mouth past my teeth when the pain/fatigue is worse. The filters thin or disappear along with my self-control as the pain and its demands escalate.*
Yet I’m also learning that the exact opposite of rest is the result of such choices leading to sin. The stress, regret, and guilt of exposing myself to even more lies from that TV/movie/internet/social media experience leaves me even more in need of a Sabbath. This is because the physical pain hasn’t relented and now the pain of guilt, shame, comparison, and regret is etched on my heart alongside the memories of filth in my mind. Because TV/movies/internet/social media or anything other being in the Presence of our Good God doesn’t distract from or deny the pain; it demands further payment of my soul already made smaller from the pain.
And my now-smaller soul is even more vulnerable to the lie of all that’s necessary for today is to survive in suffering. But my Good God doesn’t leave me vulnerable; He’s already got a plan in place. He wants for me is to come to Him for rest and thus, to thrive. He has a path in this wilderness for today for you and for me, just like He has for us for every day of the now and the not-yet (see Proverbs 3:5-6). A path leading straight to Him in joy and expectation of that glorious day when there will be no more tears, pain, or suffering (see Revelation 21:4).
Matthew 11:28-30 MSG “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
*And wouldn’t you know it? Not a half-hour after I finished writing that paragraph did I find myself having to confess from doing exactly that – speaking something not good about someone else. The point isn’t what this person did; the point was that I was not guarding my heart and thus, my tongue which speaks from my heart (see Matthew 15:18). But thanks be to our Good and Gracious God Who gave forgiveness and a fresh awareness of His Presence in exchange for my confession and repentance. Oh, Father, please keep teaching me and please help me keep a guard on my heart and tongue!
written by and copyrighted to Beth Madison, Ph.D., 2023.
2 thoughts on “why me?”
Thanks for the good word and reminder! Blessings to you my friend!
Vice President for Institutional Advancement
1050 Union University Drive
Jackson, Tennessee 38305
Thanks and blessings to you too!😊