Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Reveal in order to Heal
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
In response to a dear friend this week, I found myself again going to Romans 5 and reading again the words of Hope. So often we are stuck in our troubles and find we have no hope, we are lost in the images of despair and hopelessness. What struck me as I read these verses was the words rejoice in our suffering. What does that mean exactly? Having suffered, do I really remember rejoicing? When I felt the lowest of low, was my first thought rejoice?
When we are in pain, the last thing we want to do is rejoice. But as I was reading this scripture, I wondered if I could re state that word in that sentence. What if it meant, be “honest” in our sufferings. Meaning we are open with our feelings, hurt and our pain, and out of that honesty and knowing that God is for us and He suffers with us, brings us to perseverance then character and finally HOPE.
When I was training for the marathon, I suffered. Oh did I suffer. I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel, but I pushed through. I had this goal and I wanted it really bad. I was honest with my friends when I told them about my training, and how hard it was for me and my wanting to quit. They urged me on, encouraging me to keep going and not to throw away all the work I had done to train. I began to listen to music as I ran. I began to enjoy the pain (crazy) and it brought about perseverance that I can do this. It then built up my character and I knew that I felt good about myself. I then could hope that I could do it. HOPE!
I also remember suffering as I left the gay identity that I was so firmly attached to. I remember the days when images, thoughts, memories, smells, and sites drew me to want to lay down all the hard work and just forget this perseverance thing. But I longed for God, and longed for something more than the hopelessness that I found in my gay identity. I talked about my pain, and suffering. I did not want to stay in that place, but knew I needed to talk, be honest and “feel” the emotions that God was bringing to the surface in my life. The phrase “God reveals in order to heal” has become a phrase that I welcome, even though it will bring pain, I know that it is for my healing. The more I put a lid on the painful areas in my life that God wants to touch, the more I stay in prison to that pain.
God longs for us to give him the pain, the suffering that we are feeling. He longs for us to be honest with Him and others, the body of Christ. How are we being honest? How are we doing with the painful places still lingering in our hearts? Do we believe God to be big enough for our pain, or is our pain too big for the Creator of the Universe? To the one who painfully sacrificed His only son for us?
Proverbs 10:3 says: "The Lord will NOT let the godly go hungry, but he refuses to satisfy the craving of the wicked." God will not leave us nor forsake us. He will not let our needs go unmet, or our pain not healed. When we turn to other cravings to get our pain resolved rather than to God, it will not satisfy us. It may give us some temporary relief but it will not satisfy us. Entertainment, drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating, not eating, and relationships are a few examples of temporary coping mechanisms, they are not all together wrong, but when we abuse them, or use them to cover up pain, they can be detrimental to our health in all areas of our life.
The Lord is longing for us to be honest, with all that is within us. He longs for us to be built up, encouraged and for us to build perseverance, character and to Hope. To hope that God is for us and not against us. That He can meet us where we are at, and He can meet us in our suffering.
God graciously gave up His son to suffer, to know our suffering. So that we can be honest with Him, our healer.