In the Steps of Suffering...

“They gave our Master a crown of thorns. Why do we hope for a crown of roses?”
~ Dr. Martin Luther
Iris has chosen this quote for this week's "In 'other' Words". I ran across it when she posted it over the weekend, and have been thinking on it ever since, wondering how I would possibly condense my thoughts on it into a blog post. You see...this is where we have lived for the past 15 months. This is what I have been walking through...this is the theme that has been interwoven in the times that I have cried out to God in despair, the times that I have felt the incomprehensible peace that He is in perfect control, and the times of inexpressible joy of knowing His love more deeply and more beautifully than ever before. God has reminded me, over and over again, through personal Bible Study, through the teachings of others, through songs that He has brought across my path, and through the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit..."You are called to suffer with me. It is a privilege, and a joy."

I have shared in previous posts that my real struggle with the issue of suffering didn't come from purely personal suffering, but from experiencing the sufferings of my children. My first head-to-head battle in this area came when Ammah Grace was still in NICU, and I struggled with the tiny scars that evidenced the traumas she had been through in her short life. God taught me much through that time...and then graduated us from Suffering 101 to Suffering 102 with the illness and death of my dad. Not only was my grief more intense than I had ever experienced before, but my children were experiencing real grief for the first time...which was a heart-wrenching thing for this mama. We were still reeling from that, when we were hit with another extended family crisis...a crisis far beyond what I ever imagined experiencing. Again...the personal hurt was and is huge, but it has been nothing compared to watching the intensity of my children's pain.

Up until this point, my struggles with "why?" had been very limited. There were moments of confusion, but never any real doubt. God was good, He had a purpose, and eventually joy would come in the morning. This time, however, was different.

"WHY is God allowing my children to go through this? WHY are they having to be exposed to this kind of pain? Have they not gone through ENOUGH suffering in their young lives? God COULD have prevented this. HOW in the world can I explain to my children that God is good, God is loving, and God is All-Powerful when He allowed this to happen?"

But just as God lovingly showed Thomas the Doubter the wounds in His hands and His side, so He has patiently walked me through ever deeper paths in the school of suffering...and He continues to walk me through them. The very concept of today's quote...the suffering that Jesus went through before us...has been what I have clung to during the painful learning experiences. Not only has He gently reminded me of the suffering of Jesus during His time on earth...but He has also reminded me that as a Father, God knows what it is to watch His child suffer. And He has reminded me that unlike us as earthy parents, He had a choice. He could have stopped that suffering instantly...and the reason He chose not to was His love for us. The same love that allows us to go through suffering, so that we will be more like Him. The same love that allows our children to go through suffering, for the same reason. The same love that will carry us...and them...through those times of suffering, if we will allow Him to, and if we will teach them that same lesson.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." I Peter 4:12-13

"To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps." 1 Peter 2:21
For more thoughts on this quote, visit Iris at Sting My Heart for today's In "Other" Words.


Denise said...

Bless your beautiful heart.

jennifer said...

Jennifer..I came over from Mom of 4

I home school
I am married to Billy
I have 4 children
3 boys and a girl!

I was so surprised that I had to comment.

I have a caption contest on Tuesdays at penofjen.blogspot.com
and my homeschool blog is mcbenningschool.blogspot.com

Angie said...

Jennifer, this was the most touching post I have read. It hit me in places where I have scars. They are healed (healing), but nonetheless reminders of God's great mercy and care.
Many years ago, I had a battle like none I have experienced since. I tried so hard to keep it from everyone (only my husband knew the totallity of it since he was involved), but inside I felt shredded. My children must have known something was wrong at home, with mommy and daddy. But God, the great healer, came on the scene. He brought healing, peace (never thought I'd feel that again) and restored my heart. The shredded pieces of my heart and life have been knit back together by my Father. The One who never leaves nor forsakes us.
Jennifer, thank you for sharing this. You have reminded me of all He has brought me through and all He can do!

MiPa said...

Bless you for sharing your journey.

ellen b said...

May God continue to bless your steadfast heart. It is so hard to see our loved ones suffer. Praying for continued joy in the morning...

Karen said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. The issue of suffering is not an easy one for us at times. But as one of the Scriptures you quoted points out, we should not be surprised when we face trials. I appreciate what you shared!


Rosemarie said...

You have shared some sensitive areas that need to be shared more often. You were able to open your heart and reveal to us your pain and questions, but more importantly, what God has shown you through His comfort.

I cannot imagine, and cringe at the thought of illness and death so close to home. It will be difficult, but I know it will be one more time that I reach up and grab His hand, and He will gladly take it as we walk through another valley.

God's blessings as you continue to share with other women who are in the depths of suffering for themselves, their children, or parents. Your ministry usually encompasses your biggest hurdles!

Heavenly Voice

Joyful Days said...

You always bless me. Thank you so much.

eph2810 said...

I so know that you are talking about, Jennifer. I have asked the same questions after we moved to the US and my dad died. Our son had years to get a handle on the pain he was experiencing on the loss of his grandpa and the loss of friends...

I know it is hard sometimes, but as you said "His love will carry us through the hard times"...

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this past week's IOW quote.

Blessings to you and yours.