Shared Suffering

Do you ever have those moments where you read something for the bajillionth* time and it for some reason reveals something completely new to you? Who says the written word is two-dimensional? Not this girl. There are some writings that are living, breathing, ever-changing texts that evolve as you read to meet you right where you are. Shakespeare, Atwood, Lee, Gibran are writers whose prose transcend time for me–I’m sure you have your own list.  The Bible, however, accomplishes this at a completely different level. I literally am surprised almost on a weekly basis by scripture I have read before no less than 5 times. This week, it happened again.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (New Living Translation)

“6 For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.  We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

When Jesus died we received the Holy Spirit. This is the light that we get to carry with us and it is a piece of God. We are fragile carriers of this light but make no mistake here–this is what we were designed to do–carry this light out into the world. However, we were not made of an indestructible titanium steel vessel to carry this light. Nope. Our vessel is made of the Earth, of clay and perilously vulnerable to the world. Why? Not to oversimplify here, but if we were made of some impervious material resistant to all forces that could harm us, what would be our need for God? God designed us, he knows our leanings toward pride and self elevation. If we were able to sustain everything that came at us and still shine this light, do you think we would still acknowledge Him in it? I doubt I would if I’m being completely honest. So God, in all His amazingness* made us vulnerable but not without sending His son to suffer in this earthly vessel right along with us. Our suffering…our loss…our pain…our addiction…our depression…our brokenness brings us back to the cross. This suffering is something we share with Jesus, and therefore it allows us to lean on him in an intimate and personal way. When we invite God into our suffering, we most assuredly will not be destroyed and in that survival we bear witness to the glory of God. There WILL be suffering. I have tried all kinds of ways in my life to avoid it but it comes whether I’m with God or I’ve chosen to be away from God. Maturity and ultimately grace has proven to me that by inviting God to the suffering invites meaning and growth from it…pressed but not crushed, knocked down, but not destroyed.

– Ellie K.

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