I often question whether or not I should be so open and vulnerable about my spiritual struggles. It seems like the things that I write are so dismal and depressing. And yet I always feel compelled to say out loud the Scriptures that have moved me – that have literally shaken me – back into the light of our Savior. Which leads me to this next post.
I’ve had another month of extreme lows, sometimes day to day, sometimes hour to hour, where I’ve sat in a world of confusion over my life circumstances. I am ashamed to admit it (again), but I’ve had days when I wished I were not a part of this world. It’s like sitting in the bottom of a well, so damp and dank, cobwebs abounding, small critters creeping over my naked toes. The smell of mud and mold filling my nostrils. Suffocating my mind. And if I dare, I can look up to the top. But all I see is a little pinhole of light, and it seems like it’s miles and miles and miles out of reach.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. — Philippians 1:12-14
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. — Philippians 1:21-24
Paul’s chains were God’s glory. His suffering was part of the bigger plan. Like Paul, I’ve learned that suffering is part of the Christian existence. For all of us! It humbles us. It makes us more holy. It creates in us a desperation for God. There are so many scriptures that support the idea of affliction as a way to glorify God. Some of us will be healed of our afflictions in this lifetime. Some of us will not. God has a reason. God has a purpose. We cannot override his will.
As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. — Ecclesiastes 11:5
Many of us are wasting away outwardly with cancer. Multiple sclerosis. Heart disease. Chronic pain. Some of us feel like we are just wasting away emotionally with depression. Intense grief. Prolonged disappointment. And yet if we fix our eyes on Jesus, we understand that the pain is temporary. And the gift is eternal. I know for me, if I can fix my eyes upward, then I can gain some sense of understanding that my troubles are light and momentary. And I can continue to run my race, that’s been marked out for me by God, with perseverance and endurance.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. — 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. — Hebrews 12:1-3