I doubt that very many of us will give thanks this Thanksgiving for our suffering. It is so counter-intuitive. And yet our willingness to suffer for God is such a gift. I suppose it is mostly because our arch-enemy said we would never do it. He loves to ask God to test us. I don’t think Satan thought we were capable of suffering and staying with God. By now he must know we are capable, but he knows as humans we fight against it and struggle with understanding it. It is foreign to our creation. We were made to run on love, and to live in beauty and goodness and peace.
Suffering is probably the one thing that really sets us apart for God. Because we would never naturally do it unless we were horrendously abused from childhood. Even then sometimes we will fight against it. But to choose suffering for a greater good, a huge cause, or the good of someone else is what God did; and I think that is what it means to “fill up the sufferings of Christ”–not because God wants us to suffer–but our willingness shows an attitude like His. He hates suffering more than we do! But Jesus chose to suffer to set the universe free–above suffering forever.
When God created freedom, the possibility of suffering was an option, and when it became a reality, They chose suffering rather than power as Their way of dealing with it. It wasn’t just Jesus who suffered–They all went through his suffering–it was probably worse for Abba and Ruach. They believed that They should experience the consequences of creating the possibility to suffer. They could have picked up Their power and squashed any rebellion. But They knew the only right thing to do was taking responsibility for creating a world (a universe) where something could go wrong.
Suffering shows character, anybody can get angry and retaliate, that’s natural to broken beings. But suffering gracefully makes us stand out as definitely His–when we do it willingly, unafraid of anything as long as They are with us.
Last week I wrote about my friend who just learned he has brain cancer, and is facing death; his faith and attitude are amazing. Last Thursday I saw my friend, who has suffered terribly with cancer–more than I can even imagine suffering. She was minutes away from death a year ago, and also last month, but rallied again. She has had a stroke, lost her sight, most of her hearing, and her ability to eat and taste, but her love and faith and strength of spirit is even stronger than it was before. And she was already full of them! Watching her family cope with it has been an education and a marvel as well. She told me every day she wakes up with excitement for what God will do that day because He hasn’t let Satan kill her. She said every day she is getting better!
What an idea! Unafraid of anything that comes because we know God and know They are with us! It makes us truly “Bulletproof” (I love the song by Citizen Way.) And it proves that relationship with God is not only possible, but the only thing that really matters! I don’t want to suffer (of course), but I want that intimacy with Them! And when I look back at my life, the suffering has been worth it. Worth what? Getting closer to Them. Knowing God. Experiencing Their incredibly sweet unlove and friendship.