33 years ago this month I ‘tithed’ my legs to God. You don’t believe me? The righteous Lord is my witness, I asked the Father to change my whole life – my ways and destiny – and offered my legs on the altar of surrender as a sign I recognized Him as the owner of all of me.
Just as Christ was three days in the tomb and Jonah was three days in the belly of the great fish, I was in limbo for three days, waiting on the Father to act.
And on Friday night – three days later – He did. (Read about it in My Story on the menu bar above)
When I was a severely ‘backslidden’ college junior, my eldest sister was deeply burdened for her miserable brother and sent a brief epistle outlining her sisterly concern. Her words spoke life to my dead bones and fueled my desperation to leave my wretched, lost condition far behind and pursue that for which Christ had pursued me.
Dearest Scott, my heart hurts for you—it’s no fun when you’re miserable. But it may be partly my fault. You see, I’ve been praying seriously that this would be a year in which God makes you a ‘man after His heart’—a man of God—I love you so much that I want to see you reach heights that so few ever really reach.
Maybe our Faithful Father is taking you through the ‘refining fire’ to become that man who knows Him intimately—Scott, I known I’m preaching, but please let this be a year where nothing or no one is more important to you than God Himself—this year may be a humbling one for you—and if you don’t want any more of the ‘fire’ maybe I should stop praying for you…
Man after His heart.
These are my companions through life and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m living the life I could have only hoped for 33 years and a different lifetime ago. The wheelchair is an asterisk and paralysis a footnote. The real narrative of my life tells the Story of a faithful God who is using my brokenness as a means of taking me from glory to glory. Thank you, Lord, for entrusting me with this life and teaching me about Your ways.
Here’s 33 things* I’ve learned about God in my school of suffering:
- The refining process is tied to His purpose of our transformation and glorification
- God is always faithful in the furnace; you may not always know what He’s up to, but you can always know He’s for you
- God is always good and enduringly kind
- He wastes nothing in making us holy
- He redeems out of us each and every flaw
- I am strongest when I’m utterly dependent on Him
- When I weep, He weeps along with me
- He never leaves me to face the dark valleys alone
- Every trial and all suffering has a redemptive purpose
- In the heat of adversity, God keeps His hand on the thermostat and His eye on the thermometer
- Faithfully enduring trials invites us into deeper intimacy with the Father
- It is not in suffering itself that brings glory but our voluntary, joyful acceptance of it
- Broken people release the aroma of Christ’s love, healing and mercy
- God only allows suffering when He is intent on birthing something new out of it
- When we run from trial, or fight against it, greater works and blessings in us will be aborted
- Each trial and hardship is accompanied by sufficient grace to enable us to overcome
- To voluntarily endure suffering is proof that we belong to the Age to Come…it is the hostility of THIS age that works against us (and is the doorway into future glory!)
- Suffering is the will of God
- Suffering does not occur in a vacuum. It’s purpose is to unveil dedicated vessels to all creation to show forth the glory of God, so that all creation–every created thing–will know God has no equal and is infinitely wise, good and holy.
- Our suffering adds greater punishment to the adversary’s destiny in eternal hell
- When we faithfully stand in trial, the enemy is humiliated
- The heavenly realm looks on in awe and reverence when the people of God express surrendered joy through trial
- Our faithfulness in adversity strengthens the church as a whole and increases faith in others who witness it
- When we suffer – and come through it – God will give us a platform to help others in their trial
- Experiencing God’s faithfulness through our suffering makes sin and the sheen of this world less attractive
- Our sufferings are always captured in prescribed, momentary seasons and the blessings are exponential and eternal
- Suffering subtracts pride and multiples humility
- The more you triumph in trial, the more courageous you become and the threats of the enemy become less intimidating
- There’s no greater evangelical “tool” than for the unsaved to encounter a broken vessel that let’s the Light of Christ shine into the darkness!
- The afflictions of this lifetime will determine the affluence of my eternity and the pains I endure here will reciprocate to pleasures compounded daily for eternity
- Until faith has been tested in fire it cannot be trusted in life
- God is more focused on my character than my comfort – but not at the expense of His being my Comforter!
- Joyfully embracing brokenness leads to patience, gratitude and infectious hope
*Incidentally, I composed this list parked at my son’s graveside, having a chat with my boy
Photo credit: ©2012-2013 Laura Lin. All rights reserved. You can find more of her beautiful work here.
ACTION STEP: I’d love to hear what you’ve discovered in your journey of faith. Please add to my list in your comments below…
Don’t forget about my ongoing ‘Comments Contest’ – whoever posts the most comments between now and October 31 will receive a free hardback copy of Jonathan Merritt’s “Jesus Is Better Than You Imagined” sent to you, postage-paid!