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let us not waste the suffering moment…

11 Jun

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It’s been a deepening conviction of mine that a genuine personal exposure to suffering would cure much that ails us in religionland. And beyond.

Of course it’s no slam dunk.

Suffering is wasted on some of us.
Suffering just makes some of us mean and meaner.
But when we’re crushed repeatedly by life, we tend to be not nearly so arrogant and prickly. We tend to shut up more, to listen better, to focus more clearly on what matters most. Whenever I encounter someone young or old that leads with their mouths, I endeavor not to judge them. I do. I just figure, “Abba, they just need to suffer a bit more than they have…”

It’s perhaps the greatest deficiency in our Bible school and seminary curriculums. We have courses in homiletics, hermeneutics, church history, theology 101, 201, 301, but how do you teach a course on suffering? Sure we can talk about it, we can even go overseas or across the street to visit it, to see it. But we can still be self-righteous jerks as we step back into our own domain of comfort and familiarity, looking down our priggish noses at those around us who don’t care as much because they haven’t seen what we’ve seen and because they didn’t cross the street or the sea with us.

It’s when we’re the ones laid up, we’re the ones confined, restricted, and bound; when we’re the ones feeling the anguished cry of “My God why have you FORSAKEN me!” emerging from the bowels of our being that we learn something. That we learn to be quiet. That we learn the unforced rhythms of grace. That we learn to respect any and every human being before us. That we learn to be kind to everyone you meet because everyone you meet is facing a battle.

I’m told it was his personal experience of being a prisoner of war that did the deep interior work, the inner plowing of the soul in St. Francis that prepared him to literally strip off the power structures of this world and to practically and effectively spend his life becoming an instrument of God’s peace, even traveling to the dreaded Saracens seeking peace when the rest of Christendom was crusading off to war. And significantly, in the last two years of his life, St. Francis was the first documented case of one who physically and literally bore the wounds of Christ in his body.

Yes.

Just what might suffering cure in us – if only we not squander the suffering moment?
Just what might it heal in our world?
What diverse cultural and social worlds might be brought together through we who suffer?

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2 Comments

Posted by on June 11, 2015 in haverings, Suffering

 

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2 responses to “let us not waste the suffering moment…

  1. Jannifer Stoddard

    June 12, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    More often than not, people are judging me to be too quiet and shy. That’s because they don’t know me or realize that I’ve suffered enough to close my mouth and listen. Or just be quiet. People esteem those who are constantly talking – everyone assumes they must be the most spiritual (except for pastors, they do have to say something at least). As for everyone else, maybe they are, but I don’t have any desire to throw a spiritual hat into the ring. In fact, I don’t even have the type of hat that would be accepted into the ring. I might have something valuable to say, but I won’t compete to get a word in edgewise.

    You might be surprised to learn that I used to be someone who’s spiritual voice always had to be heard. Yes it’s true. 20 years ago when I was at the Phoenix Vineyard I was a regarded spiritual one, and that was a VERY large church! I was popular and always talking. Everyone loved me and wanted me to pray over them. After that, I was a spiritual one when we lived in Germany. Then I was one in Louisiana. Then… suffering came. And I don’t mean a little of it either. So much that our lives were nearly destroyed. I believe it came as a result of my spiritual pride. That’s how we ended up in a cult-like church in Louisiana in the first place.

    The crushing and suffering continued for many years. So much so that I assumed I must have been the most evil, prideful person and even rejected by God himself! As evil as any serial killer in prison or anyone who’d committed the worst offenses! I do not assume I am any better than the worst person you can imagine! Spiritual pride is so common, but for ME personally, there is nothing worse than I could ever be guilty of now. I would rather be considered a thief, hooker, murder… anything else would be better.

    Suffering and pain has morphed me into a completely different person. The morphed person that’s seen now looks and acts nothing like the super-spiritual person of so many years ago. In fact, people would assume I am not spiritual at all or that something is wrong with me. Well, sure there IS something wrong with me – I’m a sinner and nothing by myself. If God, aka Jesus himself does not bring something to the table, it will just be absent.

    A few months ago when I had a breakthrough and went up for prayer, the person praying over me proclaimed how much gifting and callings God had bestowed on me. Taken aback, I thought – WHAT are you talking about??! I remembered some things that God had done and certain anointings He seemed to bestow, but THAT person is DEAD. I felt the Holy Spirit’s presence on me very powerfully as if to confirm what she was saying, BUT do I ever want to be considered spiritual again? NO! I’ll throw a few curse words into the mix to make sure nobody thinks I’m spiritual.

    Could God ever use me again or could I live up to the spiritual anointings it seems He may have placed on me? I would assume not. Because I will be shutting the hell up and will look like the leper on the side of the road that everyone walks right past.

     
  2. wordhaver

    June 13, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I don’t know, Jannifer, I think I would say that person has morphed…or perhaps, better, is still morphing. God wastes nothing. He will use what and where you have been, and he will work it into the present and future in ways we cannot anticipate. Meanwhile, I’m glad your journey has brought you here, for you remain a spiritual one, only more so than in the past. One not with a ready prayer and comfort, but one humbled by sufferings.

     

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