It hurts to hurt! We were not designed to hurt! When we hurt, we want to stop hurting! There is NOTHING wrong with that at all. The great Apostle Paul hurt often. In II Cor 1, he hurt so bad he says that he was despairing of life! Did you hear that? He wanted to die! It is sad that people miss this passage and the honesty that we should all have in the body of Christ to share our struggles.
It is sad that the body of Christ all too often does not allow us to struggle. I wonder how many in the modern church would have hushed Paul and told him he was not offering a “positive confession” or that he was being a bad example of faith to others. I love his honesty.
He declared another time in II Cor 12 that he had a thorn in the flesh, and it hurt so bad he begged God to take it away. Again, an honest testimony. Obviously, Paul did not believe in “triumphalism” – the belief that we are able to live above our circumstances. That is something God never promised. Even the Lord Jesus Himself, was in such torment in the garden of Eden, that he was sweating blood and begging the Father that there might be another way available to Him besides the way of the cross.
The key is that neither of their desperate situations ended in despair. In Jesus life, the Father strengthened Him as He resolved to live according to the Father’s will. Paul in II Cor 1 remembered the resurrection life and power of Jesus, that life rose up within him to empower him through the experience of death that had come upon him. And in II Cor 12, God’s power showed up in Paul’s weakness enabling him to endure the thorn in his life. Did you see the common ground in each of these issues? They did not experience “triumphalism” – living “above” their circumstances.
Rather, they experienced God in and through the midst of their experiences. They encountered death and life at the same time! They experienced sorrow and joy at the same time! They experienced weakness and strength at the same time! This is the reality that only we as believers can experience. We are the only ones on the planet who can weep sorrowful and joy filled tears at the same time and here is what I want you to take away.
This opportunity to suffer in faith, is only provided for us in this life. Years from now, in eternity future, we may have the desire to love our heavenly Father and come to Him and tell Him, “Oh Father. I love you so much I am willing to suffer for you!” That is a noble declaration on our parts, but do you realize the folly of that desire? He will say to us in return, “Oh my child. Thank you for your heart. But that opportunity was already provided for you during your life on earth. You can never, ever have the opportunity to suffer for me again for all eternity!”
The Bible says there is a crown reserved for those who suffer in faith. I must admit, I do not understand what that really means, but I do realize that I only have one shot at “earning” that crown, and then that opportunity will be gone forever. That reality has changed my perspective on the wounds that come in to my life in this world. I still don’t want to hurt! It hurts to hurt! But, those hurts provide me with an opportunity to trust God in a way that is beyond the scope of normal faith – and the opportunity to do so is a fleeting one, only available “in the moment!”