Embracing Suffering

         Though the Lord has always provided a place for me to stay, I have been essentially homeless for seven years. I put my house on the market seven years ago this month and began living out of a suitcase.

         I’m still living out of a suitcase.

         My house sold three and a half months later. I only got two legitimate offers. The Lord told me what the final selling price would be at least a month before.

         About that time, things were looking so bleak my realtor called to advise me it would probably be best to take it off the market. This was devastating news, especially since he was such an upbeat and optimistic guy. It was really bad news among an entire shipload of bad news. My life had by that time come completely apart but I kept manning the helm and being responsible. My heart was destroyed. I really don’t know how in the world I ever got through it all.

         When I received that phone call from my realtor I was out of town, pretty far away, and was making inquiries into a new job and a whole new life. It just so happened I was in the office of the friend of a friend at the end of the day, just visiting. There were four of us. After exiting to take the call I went back into the room and told the others. This was a crisis point. It was one of those things where you either got it right and won a spiritual victory or lost it all. Everything was on the line.

         The good news is these were godly men who knew how to pray. One of them had been on his deathbed in the hospital several years before with a very bad heart condition. He should have died but through the powerful prayers and faith of saints God healed his heart and raised him up. This man was always smiling. He wanted me to feel his grip and it was very strong. He was without doubt a living testimony to God’s greatness and love.

         I asked him to lead a prayer. Four men stood in a circle in that office holding hands. Eyes were closed. We began to pray. In the midst of the prayer a miracle happened. I suddenly had 100% faith. My whole former life was quickly coming undone but I suddenly had the faith that my house would sell. I had been very positive about the process before but this was different.

         God told me in no uncertain terms that the house would sell.

         I must reiterate the fact that the house had to sell, and sell quickly, or nothing else would have worked. Bad news was stacked up against me like backed-up cars on a freeway.

         After the prayer I quickly called my realtor and told him we were going full speed ahead and to keep working the deal. Exactly one month later on the exact day of the month I closed on the house at the exact price the Lord had told me about before. The selling price was not my asking price and there were counter offers, but everything got done just the way the Lord told me it would. Not only that, but it went right down to the wire. The closer we got to what would be the closing date the more it appeared that the house would never sell. The pressure increased dramatically. Everything hinged on the sale. But I had complete and total peace in my heart regardless of the negative circumstances because I knew what God had said. I kept telling others that it would be okay, that the house would sell, and that it would all work out.

         This was not blind faith. It was pure faith. After that prayer with three godly men the Lord told me what would happen and I was merely acting on what He said. I had to keep the faith, of course. And I had to maintain the course. And I did.

         It was an extremely difficult time. Everything was hitting me at once. Suffering seemed to be far too light of a word.

         This brings me to the point of this article. There are times we have to embrace suffering no matter how counter-intuitive it may appear to be. On a related front, psychologists talk of “going back into the wound” (as painful and apparently stupid that sounds), or healing can never take place. It’s like going through powerful white water rapids in a wimpy canoe with no surface guarantee of coming out alive on the other side.

         It is like going into the belly of the beast.

         The counter-intuitive nature of spiritual suffering most often causes us to reject it and stay clear of its embrace. But the Word of God clearly states:

         For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

         For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. [2 Corinthians 1:5-11] [1]

         Sometimes the pain is so great it does indeed appear unbearable. Sometimes we reach a point, like the apostle Paul, in which we despair of life itself. Sometimes the suffering is such that we consider life no longer worth living. But just as the sun goes down and brings on many hours of darkness, the sun will rise again. The long dark night will be over. The Comforter will come.

         The Lord rose again.

         We will rise again.

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on October 22, 2012, in Real Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Wonderful reminder of how God does provide what we need and how important faith is in the equation.

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  2. Thanks Bob, your personal testimony of experiential suffering and trust is both rewarding and comforting. Continue to share your insight. Blessings Brother.

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  3. Isn’t God gracious and kind! On October 18th, the Holy Spirit put Psalm 84:3a on my heart for you, “Even a sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest.” I remember thinking, Bob will think this verse is stupid and does not apply. What an awesome God we serve. I have no doubt, Bob, that God is moving you into position and he is building a home for you. Keep sharing the words He gives you to write. You’re impacting others. Blessings, my dear friend.

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  4. Just shared this with my 2,000+ FB friends…I hope it encourages some of them…powerful message!

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    • Thank you very much, Athena. I know you have suffered greatly, as have so many, but we all know there is victory in Jesus! Bless God for hope and strength and anointing and open doors and friends and family.

      Every story the Lord writes has a happy ending.

      I am reminded of what a young David Wilkerson told Nicky Cruz, who threatened to cut him to pieces: “Go ahead, Nicky. Cut me up in a thousand pieces and every piece will say I love you.”

      Like

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