Friday, February 8, 2013

Lent: Choosing to suffer with grace

There is an ancient Christian tradition of joining our sufferings and sacrifices--voluntary or not--to the main sacrifice of Christ. To explore this a bit more in the Bible, read Colossians 1:24 and Acts 5:41. We choose to accept the trials we experience as God's will, thank Him in the midst of the suffering, and even acknowledge the difficulty we experience as being itself a kind of blessing. In my experience this attitude doesn't lessen the pain, but it gives it purpose, meaning, a sweetness that could not be imagined otherwise.
When the trial I'm experiencing is not one I've chosen, I usually begin by complaining. Why this trial? Why this timing? Why do I have to be the one to suffer it? It generally takes a couple minutes hours days for me to remember to join my sacrifice to Christ. The Lord is so good to me--He gives me trials that last a week or more so I reach that point of remembering how I ought to respond to each difficulty I face. To be honest, sometimes it takes me several months. Yet once my spirit recalls its purpose it becomes manageable to turn off the complains and choose to rejoice. I can then seek out reasons to thank the Lord. I praise Him for His wisdom. I thank Him for all the terrible trials He has not given to me. I pray earnestly for people who are given those unwanted trials and for others experiencing the same sufferings I am. Yes, I am still suffering. But now my trial has a purpose and my compassion has grown for those who experience something worse than me. And that makes the sacrifice much easier to bear.
During Lent many Christians actively choose to make sacrifices to God. Often these sacrifices come with unexpected trials. Why would we choose to make any sacrifice we didn't have to? Why would we continue with that sacrifice when it brings about difficulties we didn't anticipate? Why would we initiate any suffering beyond what we are already experiencing in life? Just one small answer to these questions lies in the opportunity, the gift, the blessing, of joining our suffering with the sacrifice of Christ and experiencing His grace to transform it into a treasure we will cherish forever.
Linked with Fellowship Fridays

No comments:

Post a Comment