Each family will go through seasons of challenge and
suffering in the course of a lifetime.
As a family, we recently experienced one of those times. In the end, God showed up and pointed the situation
in a new direction, but at the start we felt overwhelmed.
As I began to navigate the early moments of our challenging situation,
I felt a need to put all my normal activities on hold until the crisis was
over. I began to cancel certain events and
was about to cancel one final appointment on my list, something I really like
to do under normal circumstances. As I began to cancel the appointment, the
Lord asked me a question, “Can’t I bless you in your suffering?”
The question actually startled me. I had become focused on the painful event we
were experiencing and had assumed a waiting posture until it could be resolved. Any thought of personal blessing or gain in
the middle of the suffering felt like it would have been out of the question.
Somewhere in my mind, I had allowed a false way of thinking to
enter my thoughts. This false thinking said
the blessings of God are reserved only for those times outside our times of
suffering. I felt I had to endure this
painful situation until the end before it would be appropriate for a blessing
to come my way. As the Lord’s question rang
in my ears, I realized I had been living with a limited image of God’s goodness
in times of suffering.
We are in a moment of Church history where God is planning
to arrive in our places of suffering with blessings in His hand and drop those
blessings into our lives in unexpected ways.
As He releases these gifts, He is blessing us as a father would bless a
child who is experiencing sadness or sorrow. But there is something more He is going
after. God is going after our limited
belief in His goodness. He is going
after pious sounding misconceptions that blind us to His heart. He is going after terminal thought patterns
that releases sorrow instead of joy.
When the Lord asked me the question – “Can’t I bless you in
your suffering?” – my response was, “Yes, Lord you can, but don’t I need to get
through this first?”
My question to His question revealed a second point of
healing God wanted me to experience.
Many of us think we must endure the full length of suffering before God is
willing show up with His goodness and provision. This misunderstanding comes from a mindset
that says God teaches us more in seasons of suffering than in times of
blessing. God is free to teach us in any way He desires. Suffering can get our attention and so can a
blessing in a painful and dry season.
What matters most is whether through suffering or blessing our
focus turns to Him.
That day I kept the appointment I was about to cancel. When
I arrived, I received a tremendous blessing.
The blessing was beyond what I would dare to ask or think in a time of
suffering. I came away a changed person. God’s goodness changed me.
From the blessing I received from my kept appointment and
what I learned of the Father’s heart in the process, came a new vocabulary to
use in times of suffering. That new
vocabulary contained words of hope and blessing – the very words I would use later
in the day to turn several conversations regarding our personal crisis from
despair to hope.
If you are walking through a valley shadowed by death and
despair, listen with new ears to the voice of the Spirit. God is about to bless you in your
suffering. He has things planned for you
that are similar to what Paul wrote about in Ephesians 3:20, “Now
all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to
accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”