Suffering can either soften or harden your heart
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.” Philippians 1:21-24
Suffering can either soften or harden your heart. Elisabeth Elliott has said that suffering can be anything from forgetting to lock the door when you leave your house to cancer. Everyone suffers one way or another in this lifetime. No one is immune to it. It is how you react to your suffering that shapes you. I have personally suffered physically in a very debilitating way for the past three years. I have hated what the disease has done to my body, but I do not hate the fact that it happened to me.
If it were not for the grace of God, I would have given up and gone the easy route in my fight for my health. However, I have chosen to go the hard, grueling, oftentimes exhausting path. Because of this, I have found myself with the same desire as Paul that to be with Christ is far better than being here on this earth. Before my physical suffering, I did not have my eyes fixed steadily on heaven. They were earth bound and I tended to dwell on what I did or didn’t have. However, I have been reminded again and again that my life here on earth is not lived for me, but for Christ and others.
How does one who is suffering from physical limitations have fruitful labor? You can pray. You are able to develop a closer relationship with Christ when praying not only for your physical healing, but your spiritual healing as well. Why not bless someone else by praying for them consistently and watch God work in their life? You can study. It is a great time to go deep into the Word of God. He wants to be known by us, so dive in! Then share what you are learning and bless others by encouraging them with wisdom found in the Word and not the world.
Isn’t it interesting that Paul stated he did not know which he wanted to choose, life or death? For a while I wanted death in order to be freed from the suffering of my body and this world. God still wants me here, so I choose life. However, I do not believe you can get too heavenly minded. When being with Christ is your goal in life, the cares and worries of this world seem to fade away. There is peace and joy that only comes from gazing on the Lord high and lifted up.
Everyone’s body is wasting away, that is the result of the curse. What is more important though, is to be free from the disease of sin. Looking at others who have suffered for far longer than I have physically, I get the sense that God’s focus is on the soul, rather than the body. Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you know that there is more to life than the here and now? Christians have a great hope and a great gain awaiting us in heaven, Christ our Lord and Savior. To be with Him is far better than what this world can offer us. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.