Saturday, March 8, 2014

Complaining: Beauty from Ashes

Yesterday a beautiful thing happened. It wasn't something I did or planned to do; it just--was. As I moved clothes from the dryer into the basket, folding along the way, thoughts of the miserable cold I'm suffering turned to my friend with Bel's palsy who hasn't been able to blink for two weeks and I prayed for her, for her discomfort, protection from long-term difficulty, healing, perseverance. As I picked up another piece of clothing with one hand and blew my nose with the other, I prayed for my young mother friend who is fighting cancer, for joy, perseverance, faith, and the revelation of God in the midst of it all. And the list continued: the husband suffering long-term effects of CO2 poisoning, the father with ALS and their families....

Standing to transfer clothes from the washer to dryer, I heard myself. God had done a work through my complaining and transformed it from personal muck to glorious love. Aware of my relative discomfort, He allowed me to channel it to thoughts of others. Much like the discipline of fasting, God used my infirmity to propel prayers upward on behalf of others!

Some of you are not surprised; you fight pain, weakness, and discomfort all day, every day. You know. You know the power of God--that the gospel of Jesus empowers us to love others in spite of, through, because of, the pain and suffering. You know that God wastes nothing and uses everything. You experience His life-giving power in the midst of ongoing death. And, while on earth there is confusion, anger, clamor, disillusionment and despair, even in suffering, through Jesus, there is beauty, life, joy, peace, comfort; a giving from those who have nothing earthly to give to those in great need. And God triumphs. Once again, He claims victory and proves His worth.

"And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.  Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me.  And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. "(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,  as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent....
"I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours....
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.  (John 17:1-3, 9, 20-21: IThe night before He was crucified, knowing what was ahead, Jesus prayed for His disciples and those who would later believe and follow Him.)


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