I had already decided to write this special leap year post today on my last day of Love Blogs for February. Then I received word about a friend who is in the hospital right now facing very similar emotions to what I faced 3 years ago and this post, for me, has suddenly taken on much emotion as I write it.
I want to talk to you about something the Lord has gently taught me and the fellowship that I have grown to love. This is the fellowship of suffering. Please note that I do not say that I love suffering. I do not. But, I love the fellowship that has come about with my Savior because of that suffering. Please bear with me as what I write is very raw.
I think it was of the Lord that I received this news this morning when I was preparing this post in my heart. Oh, how the emotions have flooded over inside of me again as I think of my friend and the emotions that are surging through her right now. I have relived them all today and I am amazed at how fresh they are in my heart again. I know that certain things can trigger these emotions in me but typically, they are external and I can “turn them off”. However, today I don’t want to turn them off. I want to remember and feel what she is feeling because I want to pray passionately for her – just as others did for me. Which leads me deeper into this topic.
Why do I pray more passionately when I am suffering? Why do I cry out to God more often when this suffering is very personal. Why is it that I can empathize and pray for others, and that is wonderful, but never so much as I pray for myself! You see, I am keenly aware of what she is going through because I have gone through something similar and so I am feeling her every heartbeat at the moment. I really want to be there and hold her hand and say that it is okay. She can feel what she is feeling. It is normal.
I remember that about the 2 year mark of my paralysis, when the word “permanent” was searing harshly in my brain, that I was reading the book of Philippians. It is the book of joy you know, and so I read that book quite often to keep my mind where it needs to be. I have read it many times, but this time a verse jumped out at me. One I had never noticed or seen in this light before. It is Philippians 3:10 – “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” The context of the verses before were talking about counting all things but loss so we could know the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. But that phrase, “That I may know Him…..and the fellowship of his sufferings…” jumped right at me.
How can suffering and fellowship go together? I would NEVER put those two words together. My view of fellowship does not involve suffering. It involves food, great friends, laughter and an overall good time. That is not how I describe suffering. So, what in the world is this fellowship that I can have with Christ through suffering?
Well, that is a question that time answers not words. It is a fellowship that is answered in a life that has decided to stay faithful even in the darkest valleys. It is shouted in the lives of those who have been through horrible suffering and others see God all over them. This fellowship is not answerable in a blog but it can be defined in the life. There is an indescribable peace that surrounds the faithful believer and an intimacy with Christ is had that had never been experienced before. I know of others, that have been through incredible suffering, that also share the testimony of this verse in their lives.
Oh what a Savior, that even though sin wreaks its terror on this earth and horrible things happen, God has already orchestrated a plan that does not have to take us into the clutches of despair. When we are the most fearful, the weakest because our emotions are drained, our faith is shaky because of our finite minds have a hard time grasping God’s unseen plan in our lives, and we are suffering in the deepest darkest places we never thought we would be – that Jesus doesn’t even wait for us to come to Him. He comes to us. He climbs in that hospital bed with us, or in the funeral home with us, or beside the bedside of our loved one, or wherever we are. He knows. He has suffered. He knows what it is like. He understands your emotions, your heartbreak, your desperate cry for help – He understands it all. He has been there. He is with you. He will not disappoint you. He is faithful. Through this intense suffering, you will find a fellowship with Jesus Christ that you never even knew existed before and you would not ever experience if it was not through the door of suffering.
Such tragedy this week. A godly family mourning the death of their precious 3 yr. old, my friend in the hospital today….so much suffering. Do you know what I am clinging to for them…and for me? I know they will gain a deeper knowledge of Jesus Christ. They will experience a new fellowship with Him….a fellowship that I love.