July 29th, 2004


Unlearning and suffering

It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials. Through every cloud He brings our way, He wants us to unlearn something. His purpose in using the cloud is to simplify our beliefs until our relationship with Him is exactly like that of a child—a relationship simply between God and our own souls, and where other people are but shadows. Until other people become shadows to us, clouds and darkness will be ours every once in a while. Is our relationship with God becoming more simple than it has ever been?

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (29 July,"Do You See Jesus in Your Clouds?")

My suffering now is, at its very worst, inconsequential. I won't (or at least I shouldn't) pretend I live anything short of a life of blessing. Yet suffering and God's unique presence there keep rising to the surface whenever I seek Him. Before reading Chambers this morning, I opened to Psalm 77. In Community Group, we're next looking at Acts 4. On Sundays we're going through 1 Peter. The pattern is fairly clear.

I'm not running from suffering in a big way; I know the principles of love and sacrifice and have even walked them out a time or two. But if I'm honest (and I need to be), I see that I am avoiding it—avoiding Him—in lots of little ways, distracting myself from real goodness, from real beauty, from real truth, from real presence.

I don't think I need to run to suffering, unless that's where I'm called. But I suspect that, if I become more still, more present with God and others, more open to experiencing love and pouring it into a world and people who need it, the truth of what He's speaking to me will become as applicable to my present as it is to my past. Regardless of how much of the race I've run (and trust me, that's confusing territory), I haven't finished it yet.

Believe it or not, suffering gives me hope. That's where He shows up.

There is a connection between the strange providential circumstances allowed by God and what we know of Him, and we have to learn to interpret the mysteries of life in the light of our knowledge of God. Until we can come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God’s character, we do not yet know Him.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (29 July,"Do You See Jesus in Your Clouds?")
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