I’m not a scholar or a theologian, but I do understand the importance of good theology in order to suffer well.
If you don’t believe God is good, that He loves you unconditionally, and that He is Sovereign, then when darkness descends upon your life you may become disillusioned with your faith. If you ask God “why” and He doesn’t answer, you may enter into a “crisis of belief.”
God’s work in your life is intentional and has purpose. He didn’t send His Son to earth to die a criminal’s death to make you into a nice person. Jesus died to make you into a new person with a new life.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2
God knows the kind of person He wants you to become and He will go to great lengths to make that person a reality, even if it involves affliction, discomfort, and suffering.
God uses tailor-made tests and trials in your life to build Godly character within you, and ultimately to mold and shape you into the likeness of His Son, Jesus. Biblical transformation is not easy or quick. It takes cooperation and obedience to God.
My life changed forever one Monday in January 2014. I woke up with what I thought was a “crick” in my neck. Eight months later I was having cervical spine surgery. I had a rare and uncommon response to the surgery and developed Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy. Many dark days and nights followed.
In response to the RSD, I believe the greatest honor I can give to God is to live joyfully despite the condition of my health.
I have friends that are going through their version of dark days and nights. It grieves my heart to walk alongside them as I watch them fight the battles they are facing. The common theme is God is in control, He is deepening their relationship with Him, and He is transforming their lives. They persevere with no sign of victory. Yet they remain faithful, trusting God. They stay the course because they know abandoning God is not an option.
I am confident that by His design, all suffering can be radically redemptive.
-By drawing near to Him. “Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you.” James 4:8
-By causing spiritual growth and maturity.
-By learning to be completely dependent on Him.
-By learning to surrender your losses to God and trusting Him to replace those losses with something better.
Dangerous Dark Days and Nights
-Isolation — If I’m going to be honest, when my pain level is high I want to retreat to my office and isolate myself from the world. Being alone with my thoughts can be emotionally dangerous. My husband points out to me when I’ve been alone more than I should and I make the adjustment.
-Avoiding Community — “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
-Isolating yourself from others is also dangerous. God created you to be in relationship. This is where you get encouraged, supported, and loved.
-Inconsistent time reading the Bible — “For the word of God is alive and powerful…It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” Hebrews 4:12
It is absolutely crucial that you meditate on God’s Word on a regular basis. On several occasions staying in God’s Word has gotten me through the day.
-Weak communication with God through prayer — “Never stop praying.” I Thessalonians 5:17
Having a vibrant prayer life has kept me closely connected to God, which has allowed me to hear His voice more clearly.
I’m thankful for years of studying God’s Word and walking and talking with Him to prepare me for this adversity.
I’ve asked God to make my life count for something in His Kingdom. My deep desire is that He would enable me to respond to my circumstances in a God-honoring way. “I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ.” Philippians 1:20. I want all that I do to bring Glory to God.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
No matter what you may be going through. I’d like to encourage you to stay the course. Stick to the truth of God’s Word. Embrace how much God loves you. Remind yourself that God is in control of everything.
My confidence lies with God. No matter how dark my days and nights and how hard that makes life, I’m staying the course no matter what.
Please feel free to share with a friend or two!