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Sunday, March 06, 2005

The reality of pain...

Suffering is something we don't think much of as Americans, much less American Christians. I don't think it's because we don't suffer. Instead, I think it's because we have very people in our lives with whom we can share our hurts. We're supposed to buck up. In some Christian circles, suffering is a badge of shame.

I have recently been learning to embrace suffering as a good thing. Not that I'm looking to add suffering to my menu of daily activities, mind you. It's just that pain has a way of creating - or is it reminding us of - a dependency on God.

In my life, the way I have dealt with suffering in the past was to wall the pain off; to cauterize the wound to it would stop bleeding. The up side was that I didn't feel the pain. The down side is I slowly lost the ability to feel a lot of thing. I was denying who I was: a passionate person that God created to share a passionate relationship with Himself and others.

Once again, Fenelon has written some pretty powerful words about surrendering to God's plans.

I am truly sorry about all your troubles, but I know that God is working on your behalf. Remember that God loves you and therefore He does not spare you! He lays on you the cross of Jesus Christ. Whatever revelations you receive or whatever emotional experiences you have are worthless unless they lead you to the very real and constant practice of dying to your self-nature. Unfortunately, you cannot die without suffering, not can you said to be fully dead while part of you still lives.

The death that God brings you will pierce deep within. Soul and spirit will be divided. He sees in you all that you cannot see. He knows exactly where the fatal blows should fall. He heads straight for that which you are most reluctant to give up. Pain is only felt where there is life. And in this situation life is precisely the place where death is needed.

Your Father wastes no time by cutting into that which is already dead. If He wanted to let you remain as you are, He would certainly do so. He seeks to destroy your old nature. He can only accomplish this by cutting into that which is alive. Do not expect Him to attack only those obviously wicked desires that you renounced forever when you gave yourself to Him. Rather, He may test you by taking away the wonderful sense of freedom you feel, or by taking from you all that now brings you spiritual comfort.

Will you resist? No! Allow everything! Volunteer for your own death, for God will only accomplish His work to the extent that you let Him. Do not push away the progress that God wants to make in your life.

Cheerfully give up everything you now rely on to God's good pleasure... What do you fear, you of little faith? Are you afraid that He may not be able to give you His strength when He takes your away? Why does He take it away? Only so that He might be your supply. The lesson may be painful, but He wishes to purify you...

Surrender to his plans. Allow yourself to be led where He wants to take you. Be careful when you seek help from people when God is not wanting you to. Remember that they can only give you what He gives to them to give to you. Why should it bother you that you can no longer drink from the faucet? You are now being led to drink from the ever-flowing spring!

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