How's your heart? I love this question. I've began to ask this of those I meet also but I think it is one of those questions we ask too infrequently of ourselves. How's my heart?
I was reminded of this as I read a post by a very dear brother who is walking through the suffering of Parkinson's disease. His post reminded me it is very good to weigh the desires and motives of the heart especially in suffering. During the past five years God has been gracious to me in teaching me a lot about the benefits of suffering, often bringing me to the point where I felt like I couldn't go on only to be brought to where I would have to ask "How can I possibly ask for this to be removed if God is doing some great thing in it?" This is God's grace in the midst of suffering. The suffering Jesus bore for our redemption is the template for this thought as the good it accomplished was the greatest measure of love ever. But even like Jesus himself prayed...if there is another way...but not my will but Thine be done. So I am not imposing guilt upon anyone who has prayed for relief. It is not a sin to ask for it. It is a sin to focus on just wanting healing and not seeking God's will first and foremost.
The pitfall we all like to fall into while suffering is self pity of even selfishness...for me that might be to have a more comfortable chair. Our desire to be set free from suffering becomes an idol or a mode of manipulating others. There are times we feel completely justified to let the whole world know how much we hurt for the simple purpose of validation. But here's a question for you...If your eyes are so consumed with your own comfort that you are not seeking His face or to love others is that not selfish? This is dicey territory I know and I can hear some of you saying "Oh come on now!" But it's true! I've been emptied by it at times, to just let others know how much I'm hurting for selfish reasons...it happens. The heart is deceitfully wicked and sadly, for as hard as suffering is to walk through it is no different here than in any other arena of life.
This seems so counter intuitive to our natural modes of dealing with suffering in how it casts off the notion that its allowable to be selfish in the midst of suffering because "I'm in so much pain!" WRONG! (I'm convicted by my own words!) I must add that I understand there is pain that is so wrenching that we do become consumed by its presence for a short time. Grief is a suffering that can be like that for some. But suffering is not meant to keep us focused on ourselves!
The cure for any wrong motive in us is to lay our life in suffering at the foot of His cross with a thanksgiving sacrifice and a sacrifice of praise in surrender to His will. To ask for understanding as to what He is teaching us, wisdom in walking through this season, for help to sustain us in our weakness. I have found myself saying "God ya gotta help me here because I don't know what this looks like" when I read we are to give thanks in all things or to offer up a sacrifice of praise. How can we be thankful or praise God when we suffer so? It is in the understanding of who God is and that He is working for our good and His glory that this happens. We must trust enough to give thanks in the midst of it...oh we must learn to give thanks!
Why give thanks? Because God is doing things we cannot even imagine because of the suffering we experience. He is working in us to be sure, but He is also working in the lives of others through our relationships in this season of suffering. The modeling of faith to others, the stretching of their hearts to serve one who is weak in body or in grief, it all has a purpose. God's ability to open our ears to hear Him, to get us to sit still before Him and to teach us in the midst of trial amazes me! For this one thing if nothing else I will praise Him for He has answered my prayer to draw me close to Himself, closer than I ever thought possible.
Looking back upon these past few years I can see His wisdom in choosing suffering as my teacher...and what a perfect teacher it has been. Praise God for His mercies which are new every morning, for the manna of grace we need for each and every day and for His faithfulness to keep us in the midst of trial.
Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks
All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.