1.11.15–>”Already, Not Yet”

Embrace Suffering?

And you placed everything under His feet.
When it speaks of everything being subjected to Him, it leaves nothing that is not subjected to Him. As things are at present, we don’t see everything subjected to Him. What we do see is the one who was, for a little while, made lower than the angels-that is, Jesus-crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by God’s grace He might taste death on behalf of everyone.

Hebrews 2:8-9

Everything is subjected to Christ. Yet we do not see it at present. We just don’t. Bad things happen. Our prayers for healing are not always answered affirmatively. Our friends, our family members die sometimes at young ages. What gives?The kingdom of God was inaugurated with the Advent of Jesus, but will not be fully realized until His second Advent. That’s what the New Testament teaches. That’s how it is, how things are. In many ways we all do see God’s kingdom realized here and now, but not fully…obviously.

We could ask, “Why?” We can live in denial of reality. We can try to ignore the fact and numb ourselves to the pain. But do we then miss something? A big something? A deeper something?Is there much more to gain if we embrace any suffering we encounter? By meeting it head on, acknowledging it, and walking straight through  it? It seems that whenever we deny it in some way, that we remain stuck somewhere, unwhole, unhealthy, inhibited from being fully human, fully ourselves.

Perhaps our perspective is too small and in the wrong place. We don’t see everything subjected to God, but what we do see is Jesus, who suffered. Who suffered His way to glory and honor. Instead of asking why or trying to figure out how to deal with the pain, we are suppose to look into Jesus’ face as we fully embrace what we are feeling and going through. Maybe we are meant to walk right through the pain in order to come out the other side a new human, more human, more our true self as we were intended to be.

Is this why Jesus refused to drink the narcotic offered Him to dull the extravagant pain of His crucifixion in Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23? Is that physical refusal a huge spiritual lesson for us who follow Him? Not to numb, but to walk through, looking at Jesus the whole time…?

Focusing on the pain drives you mad. Focusing on Jesus gives you endurance and larger perspective. I’ve read several prison camp survival stories that have the common thread of the extreme necessity to trust in something bigger than self to get you through. Staying focused on the situation itself kills you.

I remember a year ago or so when Zayra got a piece of glass stuck in her foot. She was freaking out at the mere thought of mommy pulling it out with tweezers. But she had to go through that ordeal in order for her foot to heal. So we sat her on the bathroom counter and I got in front of mommy and right in Zayra’s face telling her to look into my eyes the whole time and focus on me and talk with me, while mommy was out of sight performing minor surgery. We could not pretend the glass was not really in her foot, or sit around dwelling on why and how it happened, we had to embrace the reality of what was and walk through it to the other side to glory (I’m really making this sound monumental). And of course afterward, she didn’t even realize we were already done. Because she was looking at me instead of the wound?

“To focus on our situations, our problems, our pains as primary (rather than the purposes of God) is to move away from important aspects of following Christ. We must follow Christ in the way of suffering.”                      -George Guthrie

Maybe there is a new level of humanity awaiting us, only to be fully realized once we embrace our reality, whatever it may be, look into the eyes of Jesus, and walk straight through it. (I use the words “maybe” and “perhaps” a lot because the more I learn, the more I realize I do not understand. Also, I’ve not gone though any suffering that I would classify as super intense yet)

It appears that people who have undergone suffering of any degree either come out the other side a new person who has experienced insane growth, or else remain stuck in a cycle of repetitive life-inhibiting denial, complaint, ignoring, or lament. Is the difference perspective? Who or what they focus on? The decision to embrace? All the above?

“We have become committed to relieving the pain behind our problems rather than using our pain to wrestle more passionately with the character and purposes of God. Feeling better has become more important than finding God. And worse, we assume that people who find God always feel better.” -Larry Crabb

“The problem of evil for the Christian lies not in God’s abilities, nor even in our perception of His will and timing, but in our perception of Jesus. As a pilot in a dense fog keeps on course by looking to the instruments, Jesus provides a reference point from which to assess the greater realities of any given situation. What we need is to ‘see Jesus’, to take a ‘double look’ at Him in His incarnation and exaltation.” -George Guthrie 

In the Name of Jesus, 
Soli Deo Gloria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *