Made for another world

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C. S. Lewis

Monday, March 18, 2013

Finding Purpose in Pain

Over the last several months I've wrestled with the concepts of suffering and healing, pain and deliverance in ways I never have before. The struggle is nothing new to the human experience.

An authentic balance between the hope I hang my life on and the ache of a wounded world is emerging. The supernatural as it collides with the material can be raw. The diagnosis of my mom with cancer, and walking among the forgotten of a Serbian mental institution, has fleshed out what I believe in deeper ways.

I have no issue with miracles. I don't doubt the parting of the red sea, feeding of the 5,000, healing of many diseased people, and ultimately the resurrection of a dead Man who was also divine. I figure if I can believe that Jesus is who he said and did what is recorded then anything's up for grabs.

But that's just my problem, anything does seem to be up for grabs. It's a fixation and fascination with the "manifestation" of God's power that sets me on edge. I've believed for a long time that we can expect God to move geography around to suit his needs, to do whatever he wants with the flesh he designed and created. It's all his, atoms have no will, he holds it all together anyway.

If you want to get me really excited and raucous then tell me of a heart that was dead but has come to life with the breath of heaven pumping in it's veins. A will that's been bent to Jesus,' a rebel turned family member, that is truly a mystery I can never get enough of!

But the hunger I see around me for miraculous signs causes me to pause. I distrust a pursuit of healing and a longing for a supernatural display. God rebuked the religious people of his day for asking for a sign when they had the very presence of God in their midst wrapped in flesh. They were looking for wonders and missing the Wonderful One. Jesus wearied of the thrill seekers looking for another meal and miracle. He questioned when they would allow what he had done to open their eyes to who he was. (Matthew 8)

I used to pursue the sensational. I was hard on another person's perceived lack of faith because of that thrill seeking mindset. If the room didn't shake or rushing wind fill the building or people get healed I questioned the power and presence of God. But as I've prayed and studied and lived I believe the supreme miracle that God performs for us, the one that takes the most faith and cooperation on our part, is for him to take a selfish heart and gently bend it to his will and likeness. For him to take a handful of individually redeemed human hearts and knit them together into one living, breathing, walking, talking, united body that longs more for his presence than for his gifts. Those are some mighty miracles.

In the midst of sorrow I've wondered if God would rather hear a child say "I want what you want and I don't want to miss you in this pain," than a bold declaration of faith insisting an illness be removed. I'm not saying we shouldn't pray for healing ever. The bible clearly directs us to pray for all things and that healing is a gift he offers to his children. But the bible also talks about suffering that produces dependence on God and a soft heart that is useful.

The bottom line is I want God more than I want to be safe or comfortable.

Which is what I think he longs for  us to desire. Instead of automatically assuming God wants to heal or remove us from a painful situation by supernatural means, let's ask him. He will tell us. There are times I've been led to pray for healing but more often than not I've been led to pray that God will make his presence known in the suffering, and that his purpose would be accomplished.

I'm uncomfortable assuming God's intention beyond knowing that he is good, I am loved, and it's all about his glory. I want to keep my heart soft and open. If God chooses to reveal his presence in supernatural, visible ways I welcome it. If he chooses to sustain me and meet me in the every day I welcome that as well. The point is I want Jesus. 

A.B. Simpson wrote,
"Once it was the blessing, Now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, Now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted, Now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, Now Himself alone.

I want my desire to be for him in whatever he chooses. I find myself in a way indifferent to healing. Not because I don't believe God can heal but because I believe as we seek him we will find himself, the Great Prize. His very presence is a balm and a healing. In the midst of cancer, for the blonde haired orphan I love, Jesus is enough. I rest in that, knowing he will give exactly what we need for our good and his glory.

Are you experiencing pain or suffering right now? I pray and trust that the immense love of Jesus will take that heartache and work in it something beautiful that will leave you more in love with him than before.

It would be my pleasure to pray with you in that hard place! Please leave a comment below or send me an email.

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