CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Suffering Response 9/7/2020

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by Precarious Yates

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,

17 and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. – Romans 8:15-17

I was nursing a migraine, and in between intense episodes of pain, I turned to Romans 8, a wonderful and comforting passage, and read a few verses. At least as much as my eyes could take. Then the pain came back and I meditated on what I read as I writhed in pain. 

Writhed. I hope you’ve never had migraine. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. 

But then I started meditating on that verse about suffering, about how we are coheirs with Christ, provided that we suffer with Him.

Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I start suffering, I want it to stop. Like, now. Most people I know recoil from pain and anguish. When we experience pain, we often learn to never attempt what it was that hurt us. 

But here’s the thing: we’re all going to suffer. Birth is painful for babies (yes, and mamas), death is painful, and there are varying degrees of suffering all throughout the in between.  Sometimes it’s physical. Sometimes it’s emotional. Sometimes the emotional turmoil is so great that it becomes physically painful. 

There are numerous reactions to suffering.

One reaction is that we learn a lesson (be it the right or wrong lesson) and never again attempt what we did to cause that much pain. Sometimes that could be never putting a hand on a hot stove. And sometimes it can be never trusting again. 

There is the reaction of becoming bitter. Our hearts harden toward others when we chose this path. It damages intimacy and stunts our capacity to emotionally grow and mature. 

There is the reaction of doing whatever we can to avoid this and all other kinds of pain. This abundance of caution inhibits our ability to live life to its full, or even halfway full. 

We can grin and bear it. If we grit our teeth long enough through suffering, we will have proven ourselves in one way or another.

There is indulgence in the suffering, welcoming it with open arms as if it’s penance or even enjoyable. This probably isn’t healthy for numerous reasons. I have seen Christians and nonChristians alike take this approach. 

Then there is an entirely different approach to suffering. Yes, we all suffer. Yes it’s going to happen. Yes, life is pain, and “anyone trying to tell you differently is trying to sell you something.” This isn’t a roadmap out of suffering, but the brightest path through it. 

Have you ever been in anguish so deep that there are no words? Heartache so profound that you have no idea if there is ever going to be another side? When you praise the Lord while in this deep dungeon, miry clay, this valley of the shadow of death something wildly other and profound happens. Suddenly, we’re not suffering on our own. Suddenly, that secret pain that no one seems to understand meets One who plumbs its depths with such thorough empathy that we no longer feel alone, isolated and forgotten in our crushing grief, searing pain, or physical torment. 

When God says we need to suffer with Him, He’s not asking us to enjoy suffering, or to seek it out, but to invite Him into our experience of suffering so that we can be transformed through that deep communion into the likeness of Christ. 

The suffering you’re going through doesn’t have to be compared to anyone else’s suffering before it can be considered worthy suffering. Does it hurt? Bring it before Him. He will bring change, and bring forth the fragrance of Christ in us. 

Who else but God can take the worst of circumstances and work all things together for good?

On our own, we get bitter, sick, or sadistic. On our own, we feel separated from His love (even though nothing can separate us from the love if God in Christ Jesus).

Whereas with Him, we are transformed from glory to glory.

However minor or major the suffering is, bring all of it to God. The Creator of the Universe will make beauty from ashes and will suffer with us all the way through to suffering’s other side. 

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” – Romans 8:18

God bless you!

Precarious Yates

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

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