The Gift of Suffering, Part II

 

So anyways, I recently mentioned Philippians chapter 1, where it talks about two gifts we’re granted: ‘belief’ in God, and the promise we’ll ‘suffer for His sake’.

 

I’ve always been really interested in that verse. Geoff the Great and I were talking the other night and we came to some interesting conclusions.  Tell me if this rings true for any of you, as well…

 

As we looked back over our 15 years of marriage, one thing stood out.  Trials.  Lots and lots of trials.  Trials of all sizes and duration.  Some were self inflicted (choices we made with finances, prideful (usually mine) reactions in difficulty that led to strife etc), others were swept in by no fault of our own (a flooded home, our home base business entirely stolen, major injuries with our children, a work schedule for Geoff that seemed impossible to hold up under)

 

We do not have rich parents who have bailed us out of difficulties.  We have not been pampered.  We’ve not had a life free of difficulty.  We’ve had periods of rest, but for the most part our life has been one challenge after the next.  Most of you can probably relate.  And this does not make us more spiritual (obviously) it just is what our life has been comprised of.

 

And looking over the last 15 years, I really do understand why ‘suffering’ is considered a gift. Romans chapter 5 sums it up real well.

 

What have trials done?  Lots. We know we’re losers. We see our weakness.  We realize our overwhelming need for a Saviour.  We understand that human effort or determination can only get us so far.  Trials cause us to long for our ‘real home’.  Trials keep up from getting too cozy in this alien nation.  Trials cause us to call out for His help.  Incredibly, He is so kind that He even uses our dumb self inflicted trials to work towards our good when we repent and turn toward Him.

 

Trials also reveal the glory and love of God.  We’ve seen (time and time and time again) God’s people working together in great love to support their brothers and sisters in Christ.  We’ve seen and felt the love of God – here on Earth – thru other believers.  If we had no needs, we would have not been able to experience that.  We’ve caught a glimpse of how heaven will work.

 

And I’m glad, VERY glad, that our children have not had a life of ease.  I’m thankful for the scars on my oldest son’s back and arms from when he was horribly burned as a baby.  What an awful thing to say?  No – I’ve seen first hand how those scars have helped to keep my very handsome and confident son humble.  Those scars are a reminder of his weakness, and a token that ever confirms that ‘flesh’ is temporary and fleeting and subject to abrupt changes.  We cannot put our faith in our flesh/looks/strength etc.  Would I ever wish for such a thing to happen? Of course not! But after the fact I am able to thank God for the character it’s built in my precious son.

 

I’m thankful for my second son’s severe lisp.  He was cursed with tremendous beauty.  He is such a handsome boy.  Yet he has something that has kept him from being vain.  Does it twist my heart when he’s cruelly teased by others? It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, yes.  He will eventually grow out of his lisp, but I hope his sweet spirit of humility stays around for the rest of his existence.

 

My children have gone without on many occasions.  I am glad they have seen at an early age that life was not meant to be easy.  They are not expectant, they do not demand imagined ‘rights’, and they are so very thankful for what they receive.  They have watched Geoff and I struggle and cry out to God, and they have also pleaded alongside of us that our immediate needs would be met.  And they have seen first-hand how our good and gracious Lord answers our prayers and provides for us (and others).  I would never wish this away.

 

Yes.  Trials and tribulations ARE a gift.  Sometimes it’s almost impossible to see that while in the midst of them – but try and remember.  Ask God to strengthen your faith while you wait patiently.

 

Every Christian I have ever met has always always always said the same thing.  Those who have suffered have always been thankful for their trials after the fact.  They look back and see the good it’s done.  Those were the times they were closest to God.  Those were the times they saw Him working first hand – and it strengthened their faith and chipped away at their pride. 

 

I know that’s true in my own life.  Our family life has been marked with a series of trials and tribulation.  It is also marked with an intense love for one another and a bond of strength, which I hope to never take for granted.  We have a lot of areas to work on, and we fall short in many many ways, but I am thankful for the help He’s given us by way of suffering.

 

So yes.  I’m thankful for the trials.  All of them.  Even the really heinous ones. Those trials were a gift from a good God who loves me and my family.    And I’m so thankful for the time of rest we’ve enjoyed this past year.

 

My family has a ‘prayer board’ in our dining room.  I got the idea from my dear friend.  How can my family pray for you?  Please feel free to let me know.  Leave it here if you’d like, so that others may be praying, too, or email me privately. Take out the space, Jeneferig @ gmail. com

 

Proverbs 15:17 – Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred

 

 

 

 

27 thoughts on “The Gift of Suffering, Part II

  1. Reminds me of “Give thanks in *all circumstances*”
    …you know, because, difficulty is all part of God’s will, eh. Also reminds me of… hold on lemme go git mah bable… Ah, here tiz:
    Hebrews 12:5-11.
    So, 1 Thess. 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” and then Heb. 12:5-11 “And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My sons, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.” 7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you like sons. For what son is not disciplined by His father? 8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline) then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

    Doth thouest make sense or did I take a rabbit train?
    Love you Mo.

    -RyIN
    Couldn’t put RyANN because that looks worse. So, I put it RyIN. D**e. I’m gonna start signing my name like that because it’s rad.

    -RyIN Kayleee Ig-uh-raw-sheeeeeesh

  2. Ryann, you did a very good job researching. I’m counting that towards your homework. But since I don’t really record anything that doesn’t mean much. But I’m glad your brain is getting bigger and I’m glad you are also my sister in the Lord. I like you at 15. You used to drive me nuts when you were five. I’m glad I didn’t end up selling you to the circus

  3. 1) Great post.

    2) You didn’t have to sell her to the circus… you can, however, send her to me. I will quite gladly take her. And we shall tour this island (and possibly others) together. I won’t buy though – I’ll just lease her for a few years. That way you and Geoff the Great get her back just in time for the college and wedding bills to roll in. MUAHAHAHA (PS to Ryann – Bekah says this is a good idea.)

  4. PS If you send her here I promise we’ll take lots of pictures of all the fun we have. And we’ll send you copious amounts of rice crackers. Honest.

  5. Well put Miss Jen. I have always said that those tough times are when God files the rough edges off of my character and polishes me up to be a better reflection of Him.

    In other news, would you like to drive down and be a judge in a speech and debate tournament here next weekend? The homeschool kids competing are stellar…(one is related to me)

  6. Without going into great detail, I thank you so much for putting all things in perspective and in their rightful place. The last time my honey was deployed I clung to James 1:2 and will be again. I think you do, as well.

  7. Phyllis — I’m too dumb to judge a speech and debate tournament. But I’m almost tempted to say yes so I can hang out with you again.

    Melonie — Yes, I will trade Ryann for Rice Crackers (make sure you get the ones that are wrapped with seaweed). Better yet, I will just come along with Ryann and then you and I can go chopstick shopping together

  8. The hard times are my closest times to the Lord. It’s like a warm blanket and a mug of my favorite drink. Just me and the Lord pulling through.

    Faith

  9. Along those same lines, I was reminded this week of what we have to be thankful for in the future after this life on earth is over.

    We listened to this:

    http://media06.sa-media.com/sermons021/5205204346.mp3

    Pain can remind us of the future of those who will die in their sin–for them there will be no rest, no hope and no break in their agony.

    Hopefully if we think on that in our pain (both physical and emotional), it can inspire us to share His gospel of truth all the more to those around us…and although there is suffering in this world, we should be so extremely thankful that God in His great mercy and love has given us the Righteousness of Christ in place of our sin. So when those who are in Christ are looked upon by a righteous God, He sees instead the payment of His precious, perfect son… who sacrificed everything for His own.

    We have the blessed hope! His name is Jesus Christ~ All praise to Him forever!

    Philippians 3:17-21
    17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. 20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

  10. Great insight!
    Ditto to all that you’ve poured your heart out about today. I have been reflecting deeply for the past 6 months on these very same things. My husband and I will be married also 15 years this May, too! We had meager beginnings….living in a tent for the first 3+ months of our marriage. All those days of “roughin” it prepared us in so many ways for when there have been “bumps” in the road. We are currently are on a very bumpy road. However, God has been so faithful to see us through it all. He has truly impressed on my heart “The Lord is my shepherd. I have EVERYTHING I need.”
    Sometimes it’s hard to truly make our children understand that HIS ways are the best when they see other “Christians” having more. Once in awhile I show my kiddos the cool and unique things your kiddos are doing….as a way of keeping perspective on what’s truly important…..family, making memories and living for JESUS. It also is good for me to keep my focus where it should be as well especially when this world brings countless distractions.
    Thanks for being “real” and sharing your journey as a Kings Kid!

  11. Oops…….sorry about the poor sentence structure above……I was getting distracted by my 6 year old telling me about a book he was reading,etc. and didn’t bother editing……..

  12. Loved part 2 Jen. So happy to see this in my google reader. This was read LAST…as I knew it was going to be good and kick me in the behind.

    Best line for me was…
    ‘We’ve seen and felt the love of God – here on Earth – thru other believers. If we had no needs, we would have not been able to experience that.’

    That’s such an odd truth, isn’t it? If you never had any needs, think of how many things you’d have missed out on? Witnessing friends being able to minister BECAUSE there was a need.

    I’m with you on the whole ‘allowing your children to have scars or lisps.’ reasoning. Many parents may be silently wondering if you’ve gone too far here….I’m not one of them.

    I wouldn’t inject my daughter with embryonic stem cells for all the tea in China. God rewarded her with a stubborn, awesome strength BECAUSE of her disability. I wonder if that determination to be a missionary would be so steadfast and firm if she’d always had an easy life?

    Those who suffer have been softened enough to see other hurting people. (mature and complete…not lacking anything) James 1:4.

    Without the suffering, would my daughter just be…stubborn. period? end of story? Not stubborn in her faith, or steadfast about righteousness? Big difference.

  13. Jen,
    I so appreciate this post, and Emily’s comment on James 1:4. We do see the suffering of others more because of our own suffering. I also like what you said, Jen, about our children. It is making me evaluate my own children and if they have too much. I want their character grown more than any material thing in the world.

    I learned so much through my suffering and have gone back to the lessons time and time again. Suffering comes in various forms to various people, and all are legitimate and useful for God to grow us. One of my trials was when I got seriously ill when my oldest was a baby. I learned:

    1. My family and children belong to God. If He takes me home to heaven, He has a good plan for them that He set before the beginning of the world.

    2. I don’t want to waste any of my time persuing selfish ambibitions. I don’t know when I will die, so I want to do God’s will every moment of every day.

    3. Gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for today and all that is in today. All the joy, sorrow, laughter and tears. I am thankful to be a part of my family’s life with all that it entails.

    4. I ache more for other people and their suffering, especially those who are terminal and don’t know God. I want them to know Jesus.

    Anyway, sorry for the long comment. As for prayer, please pray for my husband and our family. He works full time in Christian camping ministry as a director, and this has its challenges and its joys. He feels inadequate, and pray for him to rely upon God for everything and for wisdom. Always dear to my heart is prayer for my children to love God with all that they have. They are 6 and 2, and my 6 year old daughter is determined to be a missionary to Africa someday. Praise God. Whatever His plan is, I pray that she will follow it.

    Blessings,

    Joanne

  14. My kiddos think your kiddos are cool because they have their own zip line, goats and they loved that homemade video in your SUV with Bo Bo and his helium voice, etc.! My youngest wants to watch it all the time! They’ve met and interacted with homeschool kids at their lessons and classes. However, that’s always been on neutral territory. Now they have a “real” homeschool family perspective other than their own as they get to have a glimpse of your amazing family.

    I went off the topic. In a sense this relates…… Your family is a living breathing example of the passage.. in Romans:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

    The Lord is using and will use each of your children to bring Glory to His name……the way He sees fit to do it….despite or in spite of the struggles, weaknesses and hardships along the way.

    God Bless from PA!

  15. Blessings to you and your family. Thank you for sharing. It helps to put everything in perspective when I or my family struggle to know others out there feel the same way. Life has not been easy for us with divorce and rejection rearing its ugly head many years ago but God has been right there with us helping my now grown children prosper in Him. No riches, life not easy as pie but blessed by God. Now that I am a grandma I still have emotional struggle about previous athings in life and my future but I am trusting God to lead me either with handwriting on the wall or just behind the scenes secretly. Thank you for the inspiration and put me on that prayer board for direction in my life now. Finances are the problem in my later years and I would like to find a husband to ease the loneliness. Blessings.

  16. Thank you so much for this post! I am sorry for what you’ve had to go through, but I am thankful for the Lord to carry you.

    Please pray for James and a job need.

    Love ya’,

    Susan

  17. Lovely post. If you have space on your prayer board, can you add me? Going through a season of depression and could use any extra prayer I can get. Thanks!!

  18. Jen,
    That was a great post, and it truly blessed me today. Thanks for putting your heart into it.

    Michelle

  19. Hey Jen,

    If you are in need for any more kitties, we have a fresh litter in 🙂 Five kitties this time! LOL, I know you just love seeing me ball my eyes out when I hand them over to you, huh. Oh goodness I am such a goob! Well anywhos, if you know of anyone seeking for mouse hunters or just a cuddly friend send them my way 😉

  20. I think that was exactly what I needed to hear as I sit in the library feeling sorry for myself. Thank you for blessing me with that post today.

  21. I have learned much these past 7 months. There really are some blessings that can only be gained through trials.

    This Easter, the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross means more to me than ever. Without that sacrifice, I would not have the hope, the promise of everlasting life! I couldn’t imagine “life” ending at ashes to ashes… because it is when we leave here that true life really begins. While I had already known this before, it is just different now. Much different.

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