Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is suffering really worth it?

So God must've really wanted to bring 1 Peter 1:6-7 to my attention this week because not only was it my homework for my women's Bible study, but it was also what our pastor preached on Sunday morning. Coincidence? I think not.

Let's look at it again:

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Last week, I was struggling with a fear of suffering, specifically that it might mean losing Marshall. This week, after a few rough nights of 3am feedings followed by 4:30 am wake-ups (yes, he was wide awake, ready to begin his day at 4am!!!), I began to think of my "suffering" in a different light. My hubby helped point out that perhaps Marshall, as much as we adore him, is also a "trial" God has given us.

As we listened to the pastor preach on suffering this week, he made an interesting point about what it means to "rejoice in suffering." It does not mean that we should rejoice in the trial itself, because that's not logical. But it means that we are to rejoice in the RESULT of the trial. And what is that result? That "our faith - of greater worth than gold...may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."

Similarly, James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

Through trials, our faith is being tested, we are being refined like gold, held out over a hot flame, allowing the impurities in our life to burn away. In the midst of the trial, it hurts, it's painful, and we want to flee from it. Yet this refining process, this testing of our faith IS necessary. It shapes us, it purifies it, it makes us more like Jesus.

For me, this week especially, as I've felt exhausted and irritable from several nights in a row of poor sleep, there is a part of me that wants to get angry and demand my rights. Last night, when Marshall began to wail for the third night in a row at 3am, I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous! I deserve some freaking sleep!"

Yes, I know, he's only a baby and it's just a temporary phase, any mom will tell you. But you moms also know what it feels like to be in that very moment, when you feel like you are going to lose it, you're just so darn tired and ticked off.

Perhaps these past 8 months of poor sleep have been part of a"trial" that God's chosen to send my way. Perhaps I've needed to be brought to my knees and experience such physical and emotional exhaustion that it's hard to get through the day. Perhaps in my weakness, God is teaching me that I can't do it alone, that I must depend on Him. It is hard to love my husband well on little sleep. It is hard to be kind and tender and think of someone else's needs above your own when you're grouchy. It's hard not to think, "if only you knew what it felt like to do this job everyday!" It's hard to not have a sense of entitlement, or self-pity, or to keep score of who did what.

But Jesus is calling us to so much more. Jesus is calling us to love our husbands well, even when we're tired. He's calling us to love and serve and forgive, even when we don't feel like it. And the only way we're going to be able to do that is through God's gracious hand upon us, which I am realizing...can sometimes come in the form of suffering.

So in the midst of our trials, we really CAN rejoice, knowing that the result of our suffering is to test our faith, to produce perseverance, and ultimately, to make us more like Jesus. And that IS worth it.

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