God has been showing me lately just how much I tend to hold back when interacting with others. The most recent lessons He’s taught about the need to share have been related to suffering. In all honesty, I don’t suffer much, especially for the Gospel. And, when it comes down to it, nothing is more worthy of my suffering than the Gospel of Christ. Even so, my amazing and incredible Savior recognizes when my heart aches and my life seems to be in complete chaos. He so beautifully steps and and works in my times of hurt. But, there is more He wants to accomplish through those times than simply my own comfort.
As I read and studied through the first chapter of 2 Corinthians, God has pierced my heart regarding my typical reaction to suffering as compared to what a Biblical reaction should be. The convictions came specifically through 2 Cor 1:3-4.
So often I hide my suffering with stoic silence. I don’t want to burden anyone else. But I also tend to be particular when it comes to what comfort I wish to receive. I want my problems solved to my preference. The advice and comfort of others doesn’t always line up with what I think I want. So, instead of sharing, I clam up. I shut myself off. And, I in no way glorify Christ.
These verses caused me to ask: How can I truly be a testimony of God’s comfort if I am silent through the suffering? One of the strongest testimonies of life is that of a child of God in the midst of sufferings, not the story of their journey after the suffering has past. I must share right now! In the middle of it! Not to brag. Not to draw pity. Not to seek human help. But, to have accountability through my time of suffering. To learn to publicly live in full reliance on His comfort in the midst of the suffering that others may be comforted as well. To learn to receive God’s comfort in whatever form He may share it, through anyone He sends my way.
Suffering accomplishes bringing glory to God in many ways. God is glorified when my faith in Him is evident in the middle of the suffering. God is glorified when His provision is evidenced through my suffering. And, He is glorified when other lives are comforted through my suffering. It is hard, however, for any of these things to happen if I bury and hide my sufferings, acting as if my world is running perfectly. His glorification is limited and my suffering truly becomes pointless.
I must confess, I don’t really know how to live in public suffering. I don’t know how to separate sharing my sufferings from complaining about them. I don’t know how to trust God alone for the provision of my needs while being open about my struggles at the same time. But, I am learning. And I am realizing that if my goal is the glorification of Christ, He will teach me how to live in such a way that my sufferings accomplish His purposes.
It’s a bit frightening to think of those private aspects of my life being so public, but the excitement of living to glorify Christ is much greater than any fear. I’m ready to make that a priority, not only once the clouds part and the sun shines again, but also in the middle of it all when the storm is blowing its fiercest.