Have you ever considered it?
This summer I had the opportunity to go to Shepherd Church’s High School Summer Camp. I can still vividly remember the night before I left to go on the retreat. I walked out the bathroom door with a razor still in my right hand and tears streaming down my face. I had been struggling with self harm for the past five years and constantly turning to a razor for relief. That night I had given up. As I shut my eyes and fell asleep, I whispered a prayer, “God I need you to completely change my life around this week because if not I’m going to end it the day that I get back from camp.” As I reflect on this night I can’t help but acknowledge that suffering is inevitable; which leads me to a passage in Romans chapter 8.
Romans 8:14-17 says, “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
"God is undeniably good, and He will continue to be good in the midst of our suffering."
In this life we will suffer, but God will not allow our suffering to be in vain. James 1:5 says that God uses our trials to make us perfect and complete not lacking anything. God is undeniably good, and He will continue to be good in the midst of our suffering. I encourage you to rejoice in your hardships because there is also glory in our suffering we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope (Romans 5:3-4).
"The Spirit provides us with power when we are weak, peace in the midst of chaos, and hope when we are hopeless."
Since life and suffering are kind of like a package deal how do we survive? The answer is simple. We are children of God, sons and daughters of the King; not because we deserve to be, but because He didn’t want to live in eternity without us. Now since we have been “adopted into sonship” there is nothing; no trial, no amount of pain, and no amount of suffering, that will ever have the power to separate us from the love of Christ. We will never be alone in our suffering because we have the Holy Spirit ...the Spirit of Christ living inside of us. The Spirit provides us with power when we are weak, peace in the midst of chaos, and hope when we are hopeless.
"The ultimate guide to surviving trials is focusing on the hope for eternity."
Now I can’t discuss suffering without mentioning the expert of suffering...Jesus. He was an innocent man that died a barbaric death on a cross. Jesus relates to our pain. He understands what it’s like to feel alone, He understands what it’s like to feel pain, and He knows what it feels like to weep. But get this, Jesus’ story is not a story of suffering, it is a story of glory...and so is yours. Romans 8:18 says, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. So what is the glory that this verse is referring to? It’s Heaven. The ultimate guide to surviving trials is focusing on the hope for eternity. The same God that resurrected Jesus from the dead is the same God that is living in you, He is the same God that is fighting for you, and He is the same God that will resurrect you from your suffering.
"...Heaven doesn’t happen when you physically die but when you die to yourself."
Remember how I said that the night before camp I had decided that I couldn’t go on any longer? Well, the second day of the retreat I was engulfed by the Holy Spirit and began to sob. I told the girls in my cabin and my leader about everything I had been struggling with. They prayed for me and I instantly felt God lift the burden off my shoulders. I got back from camp saturday night and I didn’t harm myself. I got rebaptized. I had been rescued by the grace of God and had found my hope for eternity because Heaven doesn’t happen when you physically die but when you die to yourself.
"I want you to know that God’s grace will heal all of your brokenness and illuminate the darkness that surrounds you."
Today, I am in absolute awe of God. Looking back at the little 10 year old girl that would cry and ask God to take the depression away, and wonder why I was in so much pain; it’s almost as if I can hear Him whispering, “Hold on. Just fight a little longer Callie, because so much glory is about to come out of this suffering.” God is whispering the same thing to you right now. I promise you that whatever trials you are going through will not even be able to compare to the glory that He has in store for you. No matter how broken you feel or if you feel like you’re in too dark of a place to be rescued; I want you to know that God’s grace will heal all of your brokenness and illuminate the darkness that surrounds you. So next time you feel like you can’t fight any longer, turn your eyes to heaven, and find your strength in the hope for eternity.
2 Corinthians 4:17, "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all."