This last week has been a rollercoaster. Filled with lots of ups and lots of downs. The highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I have spent time thinking about my hurt and pain, but also about God’s faithfulness. Yesterday, a young woman I had met on this cancer journey passed away. She was diagnosed with cancer around the same time as me, and though I did not know her well my heart felt connected to her ways I can’t explain. We were both fighting this unseen enemy together. Today my heart is broken. Though I know she is celebrating with Jesus and is in His glorious presence my heart aches. In all of this, I have a deep, desperate need to cry out to God.
There have been days this last week – in the midst of the biggest storm of my life – where I have felt like yelling – “Teacher, do You not care that I am perishing?” Just like the disciples in Mark 4. They were in the midst of a literal storm fearing for their very lives and they asked God a brutally honest question directed at the Son of God. Don’t You care we are dying? There has never been a time in my life that I have identified with this question more.
In previous seasons this had seemed like a question posed by men that had little faith and even less understanding. I will be honest, there have been seasons when pride makes me feel irritated at these men for even speaking these words. Thinking -“If I were living with Jesus I would never have asked this question. I would have been wise enough to know His power and strength and not questioned for a second His ability to save.” But now as I read these words they strike me differently. As believers today we are in fact living with Jesus! We may not see Him but we have access to his presence 100% of the time. So is our experience really any different from these men? When I realized this my questions started to change.
Maybe these were just words from men consumed by fear? Fear can be a powerful and overwhelming force. Even at our strongest Satan can use fear to control us and make us question our Saviors intentions and love. These were words spoken while being brutally honest with a man they loved – Jesus. They were deeply honest words- nothing held back. And I believe that even if God has to gently correct us when we speak our honest feelings, as He does with the disciples in Mark 4, He is still honored by our vulnerability. He knows us completely so why should we not be honest with our God? Why not cry out in our fear and pain, and then ask for a revelation? A solution? Some wisdom? We see in this passage God is faithful to respond. Jesus’ response to these men is equally as honest. He says, “‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
God knows us perfectly. He knew these men and their hearts, just like He knows each of us, and He immediately gets to the problem behind their words. The real root of their statement was fear. In Jesus’ response, He seeks to help them see where they need to grow. And even more He seeks to help them see His power and authority over every aspect of their lives. The disciples cried out with honesty, and were received with gentle truth in return.
These storms serve a purpose in our lives. They are refining fires. And as humans our reality is that refining can not happen in the absence of heat and pressure. God always refines for a purpose. Gold can not be purified under a sunny sky with mild temperatures and a good book in hand. We are to comfortable and are to content to stay where we are. It takes pain and hurt to remind us of who God is and our desperate need for a Savior. For a Redeemer. I wish that this wasn’t the case, but unfortunately, as humans we all suffer from an inability to deeply change without God’s prompting. And often this prompting is best completed through trials that feel overwhelming and painful.
1 Peter 1:6-9 contains many of these truths. Saying:
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtained as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”
We may have to experience trials for a little while, but that is to produce proof of my faith. This is a fruit that leads to praise and glory to God. Ultimately leading to salvation for myself and hopefully others. A deeply purposeful fruit.
And isn’t that worth it? To experience pain now – when I KNOW no matter the results – it is only temporary? No matter how badly I hurt here it will not last. I will one day be in God’s perfect presence – where NO pain, hurt, or heartache exists. I will bask in the deep and unfailing love of my Savior. And if one ounce of my pain here today – can show another child of God the truth there is purpose in my pain. Doesn’t that make it worth it? To have another experience that hope and peace, and ultimately redemption…That is the goal.
So while I still cry out, saying, “God don’t you see I am perishing? Don’t you see my pain?” I know what the truth is. He knows each tear, each heartache because He experienced it. He lived a human life so I get the beautiful reassurance that my Savior knows my pain and sorrow completely. He honors my cries, and He will either bring me to the other side safely OR give me the strength to endure my storm. Maybe even both.
And this spurs me on. I want to suffer well. In a way that points so clearly to Jesus, that His truth and love can not be denied. When people see my life, I hope they see the unconditional love of my Savior Jesus Christ. My prayer is that in my suffering I keep my eyes on Jesus “the author and perfecter of my faith…”(Hebrews 12:2). And in doing so shine just a little light out of the darkness. After all, even the smallest light illuminates the darkest room bringing hope to all who see it. Suffer well my friends. Cry out to your Savior honestly. Seek to be like Jesus. We have just enough grace for each of our days no matter how stormy….