Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It is true!!!!!

Today, Noah and I had the joy of spending the afternoon with some very dear friends of ours.Today I was reminded that 2 Cor4:7-12 is true!!! They are a couple who spent many years as missionaries in Indonesia and had to return stateside about 5 years ago because of her health problems. She has Parkinson's type symptoms and her health has detererated greatly in the 5 years we have known them and will most likely take her home in the not so distant future. They only visit the area about once a year, so we were greatly blessed to have some time with them. Her illness appeared to have especially weakened her this time. She struggles to walk, speak, eat, and the simplest of tasks. A productive, lively life and days filled with activity have become days filled with struggle and a sense of uselessness. I asked her how she was doing, and as usual with her character, I received a very honest reply. But not always the one expected amidst such struggle. "I am doing great! Physically, not so well, but spiritually, marvelous!"
I am here to be the first to admit that when I get this kind of a response from a suffering Christian, it is as though deep inside somewhere I breath a sigh of relief. What a faith building experience it is! I am such a doubting Thomas. When I see Christians struggle through life -changing crisis it is as though I walk through the door and think "will this be the one crushed?" "will this one despair beyond repair?" And every time I round the corner I recognize that unmistakable peace, that irreplaceable hope. And my faith is strengthened.
As one who fears suffering greatly, it preaches the truth to my soul each time Gods character is confirmed in his people. The truth that God's goodness and grace is enough to cover and redeem any amount of suffering in this life is really true! That is what the lives of suffering Christians preach. Each time a saint takes a blow from life, my unbelief tempts me to doubt Gods strength... and each time he provides grace for their moment, and each moment that follows. He is faithful.
2 Cor 4:7-12 is true.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afllicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed,but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying inthe body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus might also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you."
So thank you to the saints who suffer openly, publicly before the body. The precious woman who sat before me today, recounted to me how God has used her life more in her time of "useless" sickness than when she was well. I confirm this. As I sat with her, she DID nothing remarkable and yet I could think of nothing but how remarkable God is. And I worship. I cannot explain how much it strengthens and encourages me to see how strong God is in such a weak, and broken life as hers. I thank God so much for time with her today. I thank him so much for pointing out...AGAIN. My nearness is enough Stephanie, it in fact is more than enough for my people, and I will not abandon my sheep in the midst of suffering. In fact, the opposite I will be nearer than ever before. Me, nearer than ever before. Now, is that so scary? Well, Lord, in this moment, no. But you know the weakness of my flesh. But I do not fear because you will continue to send me believers who suffer and I will continue to see you be their all in all, time after time. I am confident of this.
Hebrews 10:35-36
"Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised."

I am interested to hear if any of you experience this. How does seeing Christians suffer and God be so near to them encourage your faith?

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