Sweet Suffering, that’s the heading of a portion of the chapter entitled “Sacred Struggle”.
The author quotes Teresa of Avila, and John Climacus, making the point that suffering can be the cross that works beauty into our souls and achieves for us an abundance of eternal glory. Sounds Victorian…
“Because we have the hope of eternity, we do not become near sighted, demanding short-term ease that would short circuit long-term gain. Our demands for comfort and ease show us what we truly value….Don’t run from the struggles of marriage. Embrace them. Draw near to God because of them. Through them we will reflect more of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And thank God he has placed you in a place where your spirit can be perfected.”
He talks about Abraham Lincoln, his unhappy marriage, and how that was used to build perseverance into him such that he could pilot this nation through the darkest of times, and bring us into unity afterwards. Had he left Mary Todd, we might not be a nation. That’s an extreme example, but a thought provoking one.
(Mumbling, grumbling, could be mistaken for cussing) I just knew he would get around to saying this. I have heard this deep within me when I’ve asked God about it, what to do. When I’ve spoken with my Pastor, Alan, about it, he gently and lovingly pointed me to this same truth. These voices sing in unison, in harmony, that this is God’s will, and part of His plan. Not to run, to escape, but to persevere. To face it, and to be trained. If I avoid it, if I coast, if I escape it, that will eventually define me.
It’s silly, I pray to be crucified with Christ. But not THIS way! Any other way, I think, but this. Yet, if it would come to me in some other way, I’d probably rebel against that as well. We don’t get to choose our cross.
I want to be happy and fulfilled, at some level, as any good American. But I don’t expect a cake-walk. I know it’s not that. I know. How selfish, and immature to expect such. But I wonder, if the relationship in which we’re to model Christ and His Bride is the place of cruelest torment, instead of a place of peace and mutual good, when do you decide?
That’s enough red meat for one day. Time to marinate some more.