This weekend was crazy and long, but good. I was dead tired when I got home from work. I left for work at 9:30am Saturday and didn’t roll into my driveway until 1:36am Sunday morning..yeah..that’s late for this kid. I said a quick prayer before I went to sleep that God would wake me up in time for church. I can’t explain how much I am in love and loving my church right now. It’s unfathomable. I’ve been doing a poor job of sharing my faith on my blog, and I’d like to rectify that. If it offends you..don’t read my blog :)
So…I woke up at 9:26. Church starts at ten..it was tempting to roll back over but I resisted and I’m glad I did.
The last six to eight weeks have been full of a lot of tears. Wouldn’t it be awesome if we never went through valleys as Christians? What if our lives were always on an even keel, or better yet, high up on the mountain slopes?
We’ve been studying the book of 1 Peter at church and in our connect groups. Wouldn’t you know this week we’re in chapter 4 and guess what we’re talking about? Suffering. Yep, those trials and fiery ordeals.
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”[a] 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
As we dug into the chapter this week, I was reminded that part of being a Christian is going through suffering. But it’s not a bad thing..it’s something God uses to draw us closer to him and to make us stronger. When I think of fire, I often think of destruction, ashes, and char. But it can be brilliant! Fire makes glass turn into amazing works of art. It makes metal stronger. It welds ships together. It cleans out impurities.
We can’t stand on the top of the mountain all the time. Valleys are just a part of our journey. I sat in church yesterday thinking about how many valleys I’ve already walked through in my young life…it’s been a lot. But as I thought about them, I realized that I wouldn’t change my journey. Each of those experiences allowed me to minister to others down the road, made me stronger, and allowed me to praise and glorify God.
And I realized something so important this week. I’ve always struggled with the idea of praising God during a time of suffering. So often I want to be so angry with Him and ask Him – Why God? Why me? But as I re-read these verses, I realized it’s not IF but WHEN His glory is revealed. Suffering is all about glorifying God. It’s not about glorifying Kat for being a trooper and surviving it. It’s about watching what the Lord does through a rough situation.
When I was in high school, my grandfather was diagnosed with stage 4 liver, kidney and colon cancer. I was so angry. I was angry at my parents for not telling us. At the time, we were in a third world country so coming home to America to see Pop wasn’t an option. God endured my anger for many months. It wasn’t until I came home and talked with Pop-Pop that my heart changed. During our talk, he told me something so powerful that I still gives me chills to this day. He said: “I’m going to glorify God through cancer.” I was broken. If he could glorify God through something so painful and horrible..certainly I could glorify Him during the good times. The doctors gave him three months to live, but Jesus gave us five more years. During that time, he showed Jesus to every doctor, nurse, and therapist he had. He showed it to his buddies at the golf course, his hair dresser, and anyone he met. Other cancer patients became believers because of my grandpa’s walk through cancer and his suffering.
Was God’s glory revealed? Totally! During his funeral, over four hundred people showed up to celebrate his life. My grandpa’s influence and reach is still felt to this day.
It doesn’t mean that those valleys we walk through will be easy…but God’s right there beside us.
I’ve often wondered why God wouldn’t answer me. I was going through a really rough time in my life while my grandfather was ill. I was taking care of my brother and sister full time, cleaning the house, and cooking three meals a day, plus doing my own school work while my mom helped care for him.
I remember one afternoon, as I sat by his bedside I asked him why God wasn’t talking to me and why he felt so far away. He said: “Darling, he’s holding you so tight in his arms right now. Sometimes he speaks to us in still small voices. Maybe it’s time you stop yelling at God and listen.” Wow…my grandfather was a wise man :)
So, this week I’ll be listening!
Pray with me as I pray for healing for my family, restoration of my parent’s marriage, and the strength to walk by faith and not by sight.
One Quiet Lemon