Joy in Suffering.

The sun is out and it makes my heart happy.  All weekend I was saddened by the thought that it was going to rain all week long as forecasted, and I would be home enduring storms while Ted was working.  This afternoon I give thanks for the heat of the day and His light upon us.

Today after my daily devotional I started to read more Scripture and then stopped.  The thought of folding laundry crossed my mind.  Just as soon as I went to get up, I looked at the TV to see the name “SAM” written across it.  I stared at the TV for the few seconds it lasted and sat back down in my chair as if God was saying to me, “StopThe laundry can waitContinue to read.”

My Bible was open to the book of Philippians.  Chapter 1 entitled “Joy in suffering”.  Part of me wanted to stop there.  Joy in suffering?  Really, God?  Paul writes, “And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.  For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.” (Philippians 1:12-13 NLT)

I can vividly see Paul in chains, in prison.  I see inmates on a daily basis at work.  I know what that looks like, sounds like and must weigh like.  Chains are heavy and loud.  Ted and I could potentially be ‘chained down’ because of losing Sam.  Sometimes my heart feels as though it’s locked up in pain and no one holds the key.  But maybe like Paul, losing Sam happened to spread the Good News.  To share Jesus.

As a Mama, that idea can sometimes be hard to swallow.  God allowed Sam in our lives for only 36 weeks.  He’s the Author of Life and could have breathed life into my baby but Paul continues, “For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.  We are in this struggle together.  You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.” (Philippians 1:29-30 NLT)

In the middle of our pain, there’s purpose.  Ted and I have been given a special right to trust God in our suffering.  Last night I was reminded of the verses in John 9:2-3, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (NIV)

Ted and I now have a greater understanding of how little we control in our lives.  In fact, we really don’t control much; only our response.  May we respond to losing Sam in such a way that the goodness of our God still shines through us like the sun shines down on us today.

In her book Holding on to Hope Nancy Gutherie shares, “Trusting God when the miracle does not come, when the urgent prayer gets no answer, when there is only darkness – this is the kind of faith God values perhaps most of all.  This is the kind of faith that can only be developed and displayed in the midst of difficult circumstances.  This is the kind of faith that cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken.  ..(Job) recognizes that the process of understanding, of answering the question “Why?” will not be complete in this lifetime – that only in the life to come, in the presence of God, will it all become clear.”

We will never fully know why we couldn’t keep Sam.  Our responsibility is just to trust that the God who was, is and yet to come has a plan for us.  Although short, Sam’s life does have purpose.  He saved me.  And maybe through Sam’s story, Jesus can save you, too.

The Lord is my shepherd;

I have all that I need.

He lets me rest in green meadows;

he leads me beside peaceful streams.

He renews my strength.

He guides me along right paths,

bringing honor to his name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,

I will not be afraid,

for you are close behind me.

(Psalm 23:1-4 NLT)

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