Though We Suffer, Yet Shall We Live...

babypic


I remember it well...searing pain ripping through my belly, every few minutes. I felt the life inside of me - my baby girl - slowly working her way through that small canal crafted by God's hands as every hearts entrance into this world. I wanted the pain to stop, wanted it to be over...

but I wanted that life to come forth most of all.

There is no feeling like it, when every nerve, every sense is focused on this one thing...this one moment. Just when I thought the pain could not intensify, the pressure grew to a point that seemed humanly impossible...

and my little girl begin fighting her way out into this world.

Breathing is my job, and pushing with every bit of my strength. It seems impossible, doing what I'm doing and yet, I feel her slowly slipping out..and I realize...I'm part of a miracle...

Suddenly this little life, slithery and slimy from the process of entering this world, is laid on my chest, and without time to really gather myself or collect my thoughts, I've become a mommy...

a vessel of life...

This is the way it feels to go into the dark places, friends, where life has yet to come forth. This business of seeking the lost, finding them in the womb of darkness and pulling them from that canal into light is painful and the pressure is great. It is the only way, though. The only way to bring the dead back to life is through the willingness of some to suffer with them, to feel the pains of giving birth.

Why do we hide from pain when the only way to enter into life is through great anguish?

Believe me, I understand the dilemma. My mantra for many years was to avoid more pain, at any cost. I thought I was too weak to handle pain, thought it separated me from God. I've learned though, that to know pain is to know Jesus. I've discovered that to feel alone in my sorrow, is to know Jesus...and knowing him has become the only thing I count as important. No life comes on this planet without pain and suffering. It is the way of this fractured place we are forced to reckon with until Jesus comes back for us. Life always comes at the cost of someone else...

My heart has changed in ways I can't explain as I've timidly stepped into these places where the lonely and lost hide. Where I once might have avoided pain and suffering, thinking I was not strong enough to handle it, or that God wouldn't require it, I now see the pain and suffering as the necessary way to bring life to the dead. Oh, it's not all gloom and doom. Just like that moment when my baby laid on my chest, her little nostrils breathing in her first breaths, her little ear hearing my heartbeat, so it is when we take the hand of the broken and lead them into life with Jesus.

Love that loves because it wants too...that's more powerful than any pain or sorrow I've yet to encounter.

The Western Church has spent too many years caught up in messages of prosperity and comfort when Jesus stands before us a scarred and wounded man, yearning for us to join him in the pursuit of life. How many things have I deemed necessary and important when really, none of it has mattered? How much have I allowed to distract me from the only thing that matters?

People are our only purpose, Church.

No longer can we avoid the pain and suffering of this lost world, thinking God's not there, that he wouldn't expect us to go there and suffer with them.

Life only comes through the pain and suffering of someone.

I watch my babies grow, still in awe that I was a part of the miracle of bringing them forth. I don't look at them and see the pain it cost me to bring them into this world. I don't recount the suffering I bore to see their faces for the first time. When I look at them, I see the life I partnered with God to bring forth...I see the miracle of unconditional love.

Salvation has never been free, my friends. Every soul saved was purchased at a high cost of great pain and suffering. Partnering with Jesus means partnering in his suffering. There is great joy in knowing Jesus this way. There is great peace in knowing when you allow yourself to feel the pain and suffering of the lost and broken, you are feeling the heart of Jesus.

We must count the cost, Church, and we must choose. Will we pick up our cross and follow Jesus into whatever he asks? I believe we will. I believe it because the Church has always risen up, just when all hope seemed lost. The Church has always returned after a time of sleeping, to her first love, to Jesus.

May we count the cost of following Jesus, and partner in his pain and suffering...to see lost hearts brought back home. It's time the Church stood up and joined with Jesus, in declaring his truth...

Though we suffer, yet shall we live. 

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