Friday, November 15, 2013

Suffering

I know I have been writing a lot about death, grief, pain, and all the difficulties we have been facing lately. Right now I am sitting at one of our mission bases because I had to come out for ANOTHER medical issue. And it is not even the leg I burned in the fire. That injury is a large open wound, but is healing nicely with no infection.
Burned leg. If anything would get infected you would think it would be this huge open wound.

A tiny little graze of a cut is what got infected and turned my right foot into the stand in for Barney-the-dinosaur's right foot. I am sitting here typing this with my huge purple sausage foot propped up on the desk next to me. I have cellulitis. It is a severe skin infection that actually happens a lot in the jungle. I have had it before on the same foot, but the previous time it was resolved very quickly with some antibiotics I had on hand. This time, those antibiotics did not work, so I had to fly out once again to be treated.

Seriously, this sore started out like a paper cut and it turned into this. The marker is to show how much and how rapidly the redness is spreading. There is now a third line above these first two.


The worst part of all of this is that our church leaders are finishing up the teaching of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus and I am totally going to miss it. I am completely bummed out.

I would be terribly tempted to once again say, "Why God?" But I just read this really great book about spiritual warfare called, Spiritual Warfare. (great title, huh?) Anyway, I was a little hestitant to read on this topic because I did not want to waste any of my precious Kindle gift card money on some book that was going to talk about exorcism, or garlic, or salt rings or anything like that. But, this one was written by a Southern Baptist, so I thought it couldn't get too crazy right?

In fact, it was written by Jerry Rankin the president of the IMB. It was so good to read and hear all his missionary stories, but then to also hear the practical everyday advise that had nothing to do with being on the mission field. I am going to put one of my favorite parts in here, and since I don't know the rules about quoting other people's book on the internet and stuff, I just want to say again that I did not write this. Jerry Rankin did. So you should all go out and buy the book and become Southern Baptists and give a million dollars to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering. (Is that good enough? Please don't sue me Jerry Rankin.)

He talks about 1 Peter 4:12-13 which says:

"Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange
were happening to you.  Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world."

Rankin comments, "Don't be surprised when you suffer, as if God has let you down. It is a common experience for us in this world just as it was with Christ." 

I know this should not have been such a huge revelation to me...that suffering is normal, but with all that has come at us in such a short amount of time I have been questioning everything.

"What is going on here?"

"What is wrong with this place?"

"What am I doing wrong?"

"God, don't you want these people to believe?"

"Don't you want us here to love and disciple?"


And the Hewans are in the same boat. They are blaming all sorts of reasons and explanations and some have even moved away from our village because they fill like it is full of evil spirits. And honestly, right now I think my foot is possessed with an evil spirit so I am starting to see their logic. 

But what I never really realized this verse was saying is that suffering is NORMAL. Like breathing or eating. And yes, we may suffer even more as believers when we face a spiritual battle, but the truth is because of the fallen world we live in everyone suffers. It is way more in my face in my small village community, but my friends and loved ones in America have gone through tremendous suffering of their own. Loss of parents at early ages. Children born with debilitating diseases, children born straight into the arms of Jesus, children never born at all. Difficult marriages that end in difficult divorces. Death of spouses. Cancer. Suicide. Suffering is everywhere. It is common. Some synonyms for "common" are- usual, ordinary, habitual, average. Suffering is ordinary. Don't be surprised by it. Don't try to come up with a reason for it. The reason is already there. We live in a fallen sinful world. Jesus himself suffered because He came to this fallen sinful world to deliver us from it. "It" being the world and our sin- not the suffering. We will only be delivered from the suffering when we are with Him. Just like the verse says, it makes us partners with Christ and gives us the amazing joy of seeing His glory. 

So, even though suffering is hard. I know that it is normal, and inescapable. But we don't have to suffer forever. We can have joy in knowing that we are redeemed and can look forward to the day when suffering will not even be unusual- it will be nonexistent.

2 comments:

  1. Amen Amen Amen Amen!!!! Suffering is hard....but Jesus did it and so will we!! You are so inspiring!!!!!!!! I pray your wounds heal very soon!!!!!

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  2. Amen! Praying for you, Jessi.

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