Suffering and the narrow road.
Posted on February 25, 2013
Sometimes when I begin feeling sorry for myself, I find it helpful to read the accounts of those who have had to endure far more than I for the sake of ‘the cause’. Case in point, Terry Anderson.
Correspondent Terry Anderson of the Associated Press was kidnapped by Shiite Muslim extremists in 1985. He spent the next seven years in windowless cells, often in chains. He nearly despaired in December 1987, banging his head against a wall until it bled. Later he said,“I think we come closest to God at our lowest moments. It is easiest to hear God when you are stripped of pride and arrogance; when you have nothing to rely on except God. (Fr. Mark Link, SJ).
Unfortunately, so many of us have bought into the false idea that to live as a believer is to live in health, wealth and prosperity in this current life. Yet, throughout history, this is not the experience of those who have chosen to follow Christ.
In fact, those who surrender the most seem to suffer the most in this life. Think of the apostle Paul, who wrote much of the NT letters from prison – same for the author of Revelation. Many of our revered saints spent years and even their entire lives suffering persecution, ill health and poverty.
This is not what we want to hear, is it?
The striking thing is that it was from the depths of pain and darkness that many of histories greatest inspirational writings have been penned. The times of deepest suffering seem to be times of significant grace for the people of God.
This is likely the reason for the narrow road. Few of us are willing to suffer even the tiniest discomfort – many enthusiastic believers have fallen away during the time of testing stating that they just couldn’t take it anymore.
I get it. I’ve been tempted to bail. And yet, my heart compels me on. Or should I say, His heart compels me on? Because I can tell you that I don’t like suffering – at all. I want it to be over – or I want to escape until it is over. It’s the walking it out that wearies me and makes me want to throw in the towel. And each time these thoughts arise in me of doubt, discouragement and loneliness – I understand that I have a choice – there is no gun to my head. I can choose to turn back to Egypt or keep pressing on in faith.
I will press on.
I press on because even in the darkness, I know He is with me. There is no human way to describe the peace I have in my soul, hidden in Him – in the midst of the darkness. Nothing else matters. This life and its trials will be over in a flash – the temporary comforts – cheap imitations for the overwhelming knowledge that if I share in his suffering, I will indeed share in His glory.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:10-12.