Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The most romantic compliment I have ever been given.



About seven months ago a friend and I were talking at a wedding. I was telling him of a recent medical discovery some doctors had found out about me. The discovery was scary, unknown, and real. It could be many things the Doctors told me, but most things it could be were life-altering.

2 and a half years ago I was sitting on my bed after having been rejected and denied by the human I loved most in this world. My brother sat across from me and said, “why you Lauren? Why do these bad things keep happening to you?”

4 years ago I was sitting on a bed holding a precious 16 and a half month old baby girl who had just entered into eternity. I walked outside the hospital, fell down on the hottest pavement I have ever touched, looked up to the bright Haitian sky and said, “why her God? Why would this happen to her, and why would you want me to feel this?”

5 years ago I was sitting on a beach at 5:30 am watching the sun rise over the ocean. I realized I had never experienced suffering. I had never hurt in a way that death would feel like freedom. I wasn’t a masochist, but I knew there was something about Christ I had not known. I had not known him in his suffering. 

“Lord would you let me know you in your suffering, let me become like you in your suffering? Could you let me experience suffering so I could know the depth, and the richness of your grace through suffering?”

“Would you lay down your life for me Lauren? Would you become a coheir with Christ in his suffering? Do you truly know what you are asking for?”

5 years later my brother and friend with fear in his eyes at the news I had just told him about the recent medical discovery, looks at me and says, 

“You know what Lauren, I have never met somebody who suffers as well as you do.”

For the past 7 months I have processed and talked and processed and talked this over with the Lord. There were moments in my suffering I have yelled at the Lord. There were moments in my suffering I have toyed with the idea of walking away. There were moments in my suffering that “if I had known where I might find him, I would go even to his seat. I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me, and understand what he would say to me” (Job 23). There were moments in my suffering friends have walked away from me, not known what to do with me. There were moments in my suffering I questioned the goodness of God. There were moments in my suffering I asked the question, “why has thou forsaken me?” There were moments in my suffering I thought, “so this is what He is really like.” There were moments in my suffering when walking off the edge seemed easier than facing the darkness surrounding me.

Suffering well, right?

But suffering is an action, a verb, a noun, an idea, and a feeling. It is a circumstantial awareness of pain, but it is a spiritual and mental awareness of the root of our joy. I could not know what my joy was tied to until the truth I held on to was tested by a matter of life and death. I had to see God was worth my life while I couldn’t hold on to my life, or anyone in my life. I had to learn to trust him with everything my hands couldn’t hold. I had to lose what I could not keep to gain what I can not lose (Jim Elliot).

At every calamity, every moment of pain and suffering, unimaginable, I have asked myself “is this the moment I could say, enough is enough and be done with God? I can’t possibly make it through anymore.” And at every calamity, my song has ever been, and will ever be, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, blessed be the Name of the Lord.” This is the romantic realization of the deep-seated joy of knowing God, suffering well. He says, "your mine," and I say, "I am yours, take everything else away, all I want is you."

So if I suffer well (as I pray I do), I suffer knowing the True root of my joy is tied to the contentment of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, the power of his resurrection, sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:10-11). I suffer knowing, we will be coheirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him (Romans 8).

Learning daily,

L