I was driving when I heard this woman talk about this gift of suffering. My reaction was: she crazy. But then I really listened and ended up crying by the end – of course. I’ve had a hard life and suffered. So I decided to do some more research into this “gift of suffering”.
2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4, NKJV, highlights mine)
When we are suffering, most probably we are going through a trial. And most people take comfort in these verses. Most not all – yeah I was one of those…still kinda am.
James is telling us that when (note he says “when” and not “if”) you go through a trial (a trial is a time that is so difficult you can’t fathom life being better), count it as joy.
He said what? yup. “….count it all joy…..” JOY. How can you be joyful when you just found out you have a severe back injury (when you are trying to get to a certain weight)? Well, I don’t know. I don’t. I’m working on that. But I’m gonna strive for it – because this testing of my faith will produce patience.
So yeah. Patience. And why is that important again?
Patience is the ancient Greek word hupomone. This word does not describe a passive waiting but an active endurance. It isn’t so much the quality that helps you sit quietly in the doctor’s waiting room, as it is the quality that helps you finish a marathon. The ancient Greek word hupomone comes from hupo (under) and meno (to stay, abide, remain). At its root, it means to remain under. It has the picture of someone under a heavy load and choosing to stay there instead of trying to escape. The philosopher Philo called hupomone “the queen of virtues.” (Cited in Hiebert) The Greek commentator Oesterley said this word patience described “the frame of mind which endures.” – David Guzik
So. I’m getting all these confirmations left and right – then I saw this:
For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, (Philipians 1:29 NKJV)
Ok. So I thought…pssh “this is only meaning tribulations and trials that you come across as a Christian. Not…..as….a….Christian”. yeah. I read that. Sigh.
You see, Paul was talking about all types of suffering.
I know I kinda talked about this the other day, but after I heard the radio testimony I met a little old lady with parkinson’s. She was very talkative (so sweet) and she said she had been suffering for 9 years from her disease, but the fact that she is doing so well (better than others she knew with the disease as long as her) was because of the Lord. She said her and her family never stopped praying for her healing. Will she get healed? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this woman is suffering through some great pain (she went into detail), and she still gave glory to God.
Wow. Right? But see here: God gave her the gift of suffering. She was suffering but God used her pain to minister to me. Was she happy about her disease and constant pain? No. Of course she complained about it – but God used her to bless me through her testimony. Think about that.
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Cor 12:7-10 NKJV – highlights mine)