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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Life in Sharing in His Sufferings

Phillipians 3:10-11 "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." I want to know God!

God has something for us where we know him intimately, totally beyond how we each know him now. He wants us to understand the way his heart breaks, how his heart suffers. To quote a Jason Upton song, " the midst of suffering, there's a God worth worshiping."  Though he walks with us in our own pain, he wants us walking this journey clothed in the love, life and peace of God. There is beauty in rest, beauty in peace in the midst of turbulence that can only be found in Christ. To share in his sufferings is to go beyond the borders of our own pain. It is to touch the pain of the broken people around us as their pain is his.

In scripture God taught us about sharing burdens. Once, when I comforted a stranger who had just lost her tiny nephew, I felt so empty. I had to face my lack in that moment. How do I comfort a stranger? Is such an attempt an intrusion into her private pain? Those were my questions. After holding her for an hour I realized that this was part of the gospel of Jesus Christ: sharing in each other's burdens. I did not know her language. I had no words. All I had was the tangible love of a weeping God. I learned that as I was choosing to enter into her burden, just for that hour, I was helping her to carry it. I discovered I was easing God's burden. He feels every pain, every wound and grief known to any individual. Previously I had always thought that to share in his sufferings I must be persecuted, injured or martyred. However, comforting that woman I was transformed with the knowledge that to share in his sufferings is also to enter into the suffering in the world, the suffering in the person we are next to.

The good news is that sharing in God's sufferings is not just about us and him. It is about those who are wounded around us. In Southern California where I live, it can be a real challenge to be intentional with people, especially those who are strangers. The area moves at a ridiculous pace with little left over to even glance at a stranger, not to mention stop. In the words of one of my favorite missionaries, God is saying to, "Stop for the one." God is reminding me of this.

As moms we can be so busy and consumed in the day to day with our family dynamics that it can be hard to remember Phillipians 3:10-11 is for us. If we are not compelled to love those around us, to pursue God's heart and what is wounding it, we can start by spending more time in prayer, for prayer is simply talking to God. In the place of communion with Christ we will be transformed by his love. It is not a question. He gives good gifts to those who seek him. He is love. In nurturing his heart we will be strengthened to nurture the ones in our family and the others we encounter.

If we truly want to enter into his suffering we must open our hearts and eyes to what it is that makes him suffer. Sometimes it is our own sin. Sometimes it is the loneliness of a neighbor. My encouragement to myself and to you is to nurture our communion with God. During dishes, driving or even working at times, moments when you are awake in bed and no one is speaking to you, connect. As we engage with God's giant heart and embrace the cross he has for us each day, we will pass through the gateway into resurrection strength and life for that day. And we will posses it in order that we can give it away.

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