“Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8)
“For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me.” (Job 23:16, KJV)
It has been a strange few weeks around here. There have been five sudden deaths in our church circles in one month’s time. A teen, a young father, two small boys, an able-bodied man my age–all called to eternity with no warning.
As I saw the devastated families there was one consolation on my mind that came up over and over again. This was not the time to tell the bereaved, but it was a comfort for me. As I saw the widow left to raise eight children, as I saw parents bury two young sons, and the other families, I thought This is going to soften them.
My journey with pain and illness, as well as a couple side trips to trauma and loss, has shown me that these unthinkable tragedies will produce a fruit the mourners cannot yet comprehend. They will be softened. All are spiritually vibrant Christians, and thus I have confidence they will heal in the Lord. And they will be softened.
I predict that in time they will find their voices a touch gentler, their judgments of people slower, their compassions running deeper.
I’ve seen it before. I’ve lived it myself.
Is this part of the “fellowship of His suffering”? Could it be that if we go through these trials with the Lord, with His glory as our focus, we will become a tad bit more like Him? I am counting on that.
A while back I was speaking to a long time staff member of a retreat center. She shared with me that the workers all have the same favorite groups. She told me the ones who have seen the worst in life are always the softest and most enjoyable retreats. This ministry does retreats by topics, such as Marriage Enrichment, Deaf Retreat, Adoption and Foster Care families. I was there for the Broken Homes retreat–one of the three groups that were favored by the staff.
The other two were for Abuse Survivors and Sudden Death seminars. These groups were extra thankful, thoughtful, and took nothing for granted. This was an eye opener for me, as I attend two of those every year and am likely to accompany the young parents mentioned above to the other one next time.
We pondered the fact that life’s hardest trials soften people, her observations were proof of it. The Bible is packed full of examples of God allowing His most beloved and fruitful servants to face hard things.
It is no fun at the time, and during the throes of suffering, quoting Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose,” can feel like a bat over the head.
The fruit comes slowly and quietly, and almost always, painfully.
Prayer: Hold me, Lord, this hurts. I praise You that this sorrow will not be wasted. I have peace knowing that You allow these things to touch us to sand down our rough edges. Grant us grace to faithful endure until You are finished. In the name of the Man of Sorrows, Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
About the author:
Elizabeth Vendley is the wife of David, and lives in North Central Michigan. They have raised seven children. Elizabeth has lived with severe Interstitial Cystitis since 1996. Her passion is glorifying the Lord by writing out the lessons He has taught her. She would love to hear from readers through the Sunroom. Elizabeth welcomes readers to see her musings and gleanings in her blog http://evendley.blogspot.com/.
Have you seen your own illness and pain soften you as times go by? Can you think of people you admire for allowing trials to soften them? How many of the suffering souls in prisons today have suffered hard things that only made them harder in the inside? How can we reach them and show them that Christ is the difference?
“Gravity (Pulling Heaven Down)” with Royal Tailor, offers a unique perspective on life’s challenges by reminding the listener how difficult times can make us not just stronger, but softer too. As you go through tough times think of them as a way of God pulling heaven down to help you meet your needs. -Lisa