The Pain of Progress

This week our youngest had major surgery to reconstruct her hips. I have been saying that she is being given hips that won’t lie. That’s the hope anyway!

As she has been coming out of the anesthesia and working toward pain management and her normal personality, I am struck by the pain in her progress. Of course, she would prefer to never experience pain – and as her father, I wish she would never experience it either! But this pain, on purpose and intentional, is headed somewhere. It is bringing her to healing, functionality, better mobility and flourishing. These few days of major discomfort and the weeks of struggle ahead are all ushering something so much better.

I am stuck that our sanctification works much the same way. Our becoming more like Christ, slaying the dragon of self and living for Jesus’ purpose and glory. It is not easy and we could often categorize it as pain or suffering. But just like Adia’s recovery, this pain is part of the progress.

We run after too much that we assume is “pain” free and that never gets us to where we desire to be. On the flip side, we fight against purposeful discomfort because frankly, we are comfortable in our mess, our inability to flourish. Jesus means to end all that and bring you somewhere worthwhile. To the place your identity in him secures, promises, and provides.

Maybe we should lean into trusting his strength and process. After all, he is tremendously good and he loves you. I know it won’t be easy, but it will be good.

I am praying for you as you face the pain in the progress.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV)

Diamonds

One of my favorite shirts to wear as of late is one that says “No Pressure No Diamonds.” It gets noticed and what was simply a 99 cent thrift store purchase is becoming a bit of a mantra for me.

It is not that I am experiencing a season of hardship or any terrible pressure, but a reminder that as someone who follows Jesus, suffering is a biblical guarantee. We are to expect it, but we are not left alone in it and it is not meaningless.

Truth is, I think the things of pressure, the difficult things in life position us to cling all the more tightly to the goodness and provision of Christ. When I have nothing else, he is more than enough. And I think this is right where the Lord wants us, fully dependent on him. In our dependence then, each struggle and pain is securing for us an eternal weight of glory. We are going to shine.

I know that sounds cheesy but I don’t care. All of this life will one day fade and glory will be fully revealed. The radiance of Jesus will shine on us and reflect beautifully off of the glorified existence of those that believe in him. We can’t imagine it. We can only anticipate it.

So we keep on trusting, relying and being comforted in the Lord’s care and purpose. He is making diamonds.

Evidentially the band Hawk Nelson knows something of this too!

Suffering and Glory

“Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” – John 11:40

We love the message of grace and the truth of our rest in Christ. But we still have to live. We still have to face suffering, our own and others’. We are left with any number of questions why and what does it mean to God?

Then we read the story of Lazarus. The friend of Jesus. When he hears that he is sick and in need of healing, Jesus waits. Long enough for Lazarus to die. Imagine the sisters’ pain in the waiting for the friend, the One they knew could heal, to come and save their brother. How differently would they want it to play out in that moment, during those four long days?

I do that with suffering. I want to instruct God how he would be most glorified, and it usually has to do with a quick resolution or solution to my problem. But he continues to wait. And I trust that because I know that Lazarus lived again. And I know that Jesus lived again.

“I don’t know what you are suffering right now, but he does. He is not capricious, picking petals off a daisy: “I think I’ll help them, I think I won’t.” He’s bearing your suffering and has entered into every bit of it, but he is waiting. Perhaps your deliverance will come before you take your next breath; perhaps it will come as you take your last. I don’t know. But I do know that he made a promise to you: if you believe you will see the glory of God (John 11:40). Just imagine that. Hang on to him in faith and imagine that you will see the glory of God! Your eyes will be opened to see how truly wise, powerful, and good he is. Somehow, in some way hidden to your weak eyes, your suffering is making a way for that to happen. I don’t know when your “Lazarus” will rise, but when he does, you will see something you never could have imagined. You will see God’s glory, you will begin to see him as he is, and then you will understand.”

Lenten devotion from Comforts from the Cross by Elyse Fitzpatrick. Day 15.