(This is part 3 of a series of 3. The previous two blogs are here):
The Blessed Path Of Suffering (Part 1 of 3)
The Blessed Path Of Suffering (Part 2 of 3)
The last phase on this path of suffering is a very unexpected and welcome one: Sweetness.
In my own life, I've seen that I've developed the deepest intimacy with the Lord I’ve ever had before when I was under the heaviest weights of suffering. Before, we had no idea how deep into this life with Jesus we could go, and we are seeing how we were just scratching the surface but we've "Tasted and seen the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8), so we want more. We genuinely rejoice in the suffering. There’s an inward satisfaction and happiness that we get to partake of such a way.
We count it a privilege to go the same way of so many saints who have had such difficult lives but out of the pressure was squeezed such sweet juice, an aroma pleasing to God.
And we appreciate more than ever the path our Lord went, He was the first, our forerunner in it (Heb 6:20).
It becomes much more natural to count it all joy when we enter various trials (James 1:2), since we've clung to God's promises through the first two phases, now we are partaking of His nature more and more (2 Pet 1:4). There’s an odd thought of ‘What if I lose this suffering?’ Because with all our heart we do not want to lose a closeness with the Lord that we’ve learned on this blessed path, we fear anything other. But we can take refuge in the words of Paul that what the Lord has taught us in suffering we can take with us in future times of ease, ‘I have learned to be content’... being well fed or having little (Philippians 4:12). We don’t ever have to lose this sweet life with God and Jesus again even if things get easier, or whether more suffering comes.
It’s secret and can’t be explained, but we count ourselves privileged that the Lord was so gracious to give us such a life on this blessed path. Our song is, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places." (Psalm 16:6)
What was once the thing which would seem to end us, now we count as our salvation and refuge. And it's true: ‘With difficulty the righteous are saved’ (1 Pet 4:18)
1 Peter 4:13 "But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 4:14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."
God's glory becomes paramount in our life. Like Jesus, as we feel the blow of suffering, our prayers are no longer ‘Father save me’ but they are ‘Father, glorify your name’ (John 12:27-28). We can see the outstanding privilege it is to give God glory and bow low before Him through suffering. It's the way Job went when he said, "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away... blessed be the name of the Lord." And it's the way Jesus went. If God gets glory through our voluntarily laying ourselves down on an altar of suffering, we can rejoice and happily lay down on that altar! May we be looking up as we are laying there on that altar and see His smile and His pleasure as He is being glorified. That will be what carries us through the path with joy, especially when it hurts the most. "For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross" (Heb 12:2).
One last thing I want to mention is a very amazing thing I believe happens especially in this phase: we find ourselves able to overflow and bless others who are suffering in a way we never would have if we would have been delivered right away. 2 Corinthians 1 is a divine calling for us not to waste our suffering but to use it to bless others who are suffering today in the same way we did in the past. 1 Cor 10:13 says that the suffering we have, it's not uncommon. Others are going through the same, they have before, and they will continue to. But now we can be an overflow of God's love and support for others who are further back in the path. We find in ourselves a supernatural ability to do it from the Holy Spirit's overflow in us - a love and sympathy, encouraging words from God's mouth that we can share with them. We can "sustain a weary one with a word" (Isaiah 50:4), but this only came because God led us down this blessed path first where we suffered, and were humiliated - but by the grace of God we set our face like flint (strong perseverance) and made it through (Isaiah 50:6). And so the result is we have a tongue now which is able to lift a weary one with a word.
It really is a miracle straight from God to genuinely feel we are the most privileged to suffer. We despise the lusts we used to have for an easy life, because we don't need it anymore like we thought we did before - quite the opposite! We see how miserable it would be to come into the last day and not have anything to lay down at the Lord’s feet (Rev 4:10, 3:11) - but our faithful suffering, where we drew near and sung a song of praise through it - we can have something to give the Lord. Where He gets pleasure out of our life. We will be able to sing this song for eternity that not everyone will be able to sing, only those who humbled themselves before God here on earth and praised the Lord, making it through this blessed path of suffering (Revelation 14:3).
May we find a closeness with the Lord, a song we can sing to Him, and a crown that we can take with us into eternity to give to Him, which we gained on our sweet, "blessed path of suffering.”
Difficult became bearable, then bearable became sweet - and we are becoming like Jesus. Praise the Lord.
May we joyfully continue down this sweet path the rest of our days.
"And above the rest this note shall swell,
My Jesus doeth all things well."