Friday, December 12, 2008

The Ministry of Suffering

Poor little Snowman. He was accidentally dropped into the oven while the Princess was removing a pan. No one noticed his plight until the flames were visible inside the oven door and the smoke detector went off. I had originally planned to write a funny story about the ensuing circus of events - but every time I look at this Snowman's face smiling above that charred mess, I keep thinking of the spiritual lesson there. And then this morning in my daily Tozer on-line devotional I read this:

December 12
Trials and Pain: Forced to Our Knees
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. --2 Corinthians 12:7

The experiences of men who walked with God in olden times agree to teach that the Lord cannot fully bless a man until He has first conquered him. The degree of blessing enjoyed by any man will correspond exactly with the completeness of God's victory over him....

We might well pray for God to invade and conquer us, for until He does, we remain in peril from a thousand foes. We bear within us the seeds of our own disintegration.... Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance. Then He invades our natures with that ancient and eternal life which is from the beginning. So He conquers us and by that benign conquest saves us for Himself.
The Pursuit of Man, 45,50.

I certainly don't enjoy suffering, but I love (really love) the results it brings. It is tough to stay focused sometimes on that end result. I think that is why sometimes the Lord sends these little mercies, like this smiling snowman combined with the Tozer devotional, to remind me that the fruit will be worth all the toil.

Truthfully, I am not suffering more than a few minor inconveniences. I have friends that are blessing me in the midst of their very difficult circumstances. And I often think and pray for those Christians in parts of the world that are truly suffering for their faith.

So I rejoice in the head cold I have, the financial challenges, the time crunches, and decisions regarding the future. I rejoice in some of the trails I have already walked through (there were some biggies there) and I rejoice that there will be others to come. All refining me in order to love and serve my Lord even more.

1 comment:

Marci said...

What a great post!!!