Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world works death. For behold this same thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what earnestness it worked in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what full punishment! In all things you have proved yourselves to be pure in this matter.
Sorrow of this world works death. I need those words to sink in with me right now. The Lord is in the middle of stretching me right now this very second...words cannot even describe it. Though what a blessing it is to be under affliction and endure it for our Lord Jesus Christ. I feel like I have a few things being thrown at me all at once right now that are trying to throw me so off track and get me so focused on worldly sorrow that I lose sight of what really matters in this life: and that is to live to glorify the Lord in all that I do and say and think. Wow. Brothers and sisters, just know that when you possess the truth you are GOING TO SUFFER because of it. It is a promise. And here is something amazing that I have learned recently, and talking with one of my friends last week confirmed it for me....when the Bible says that those who are the Lord's WILL SUFFER for His sake, it is not just referring to the times when you are treated badly for sharing Christ. Yes that is a huge part of the suffering, but it also includes the trials and sufferings that come up in your life that force you to deny yourself and all the fleshly, carnal things that come natural to you. Take that in. That means that whenever you find yourself crying out to the Lord for Him to show mercy on you during a time of intense affliction, you are enduring suffering for His sake. It is not just when someone throws a rock at you for sharing the gospel. This is a huge encouragement to me. This means that all the times that I am face down on my bedroom floor agonizing over the circumstances in my life and presenting the burden of my sin to the Lord and it causes great anguish amongst the deepest parts of me because I long to see righteousness take its root in me....that is suffering. It is the Lord's promise to me that this will take place in my life, therefore I should rejoice when it happens? Haha, man don't you wish it was that easy. No suffering is easy at the time. In fact I am finding myself in the midst of it right now this very second and it is only by the grace of God (as it always is) that I am even typing out these words right now. Because honestly about 15 minutes ago I was begging the Lord to show me Himself so I could see Him and His will through all the worldly, sinful MUCK and MIRE that was plaguing my life and my view of things. And I debated writing a post or just going to sleep, but the Lord led me to this keyboard, so here I am. I am not writing this tonight to in any way, shape or form act like I have this all together. I am simply passing on what the Lord is teaching me this very second. And in return, just knowing that the Lord has brought me back to enough sanity and emotional stability to write these words is so encouraging. You have no idea.
Look, the truth is I have NO IDEA what the Lord is up to right now when it comes to circumstances in my life. But I do know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. The Lord is always so gracious to use my times of uncertainty and freaking out as times to stretch and grow me beyond anything my little finite mind can fathom. He has been faithful to me up to this point; I have a whole testimony to show for it. So why in the world would this be any different? Great goodness, it isn't....I just pray that I take in my own words and hear the scriptures on this and not what my emotions are screaming. The Lord desires us to be meek and lowly and to be poor in spirit, and most of the time the way He accomplishes that is by humbling you down to the ground (quite literally sometimes) so that you come up broken and contrite and in a million different pieces so HE can reconstruct you into the child He has called you to be. HE is the one equipping me for this Christian life in which I fall unimaginably short of qualifying for, so of course I trust that He knows the means in which that must come about.
But I am learning what a blessing it is when the Lord brings these moments when everything I am putting my trust in on this earth is stripped away from me (not literally, but comfort-wise in my heart) and I am left feeling wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind <---not just feeling that way but actually realizing that without the Lord I am that way. The feeling is awful, and I don't wish it on anyone, but the weeping only lasts for the night because His joy DEFINITELY follows it up in the morning. And how can it not? To be emptied out and stripped of dependence on carnal affections means that the Lord is about to abundantly fill you up with what is good and pure and holy and of Him! I know I shared this before in a previous post, but one thing I have learned from reading The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs is that when you find yourself discontent with your worldly circumstances, then a way to take care of that is to remind yourself of the great burden of sin you have before a holy, perfect righteous God. Boy does that work- it quickly puts things back into perspective and within seconds turns all that worldly sorrow into a godly sorrow that works repentance, the sweetest gift that God can give us. I love it when I get to put my theology into action :).
Right now, I confess that the road up ahead of me seems long, and dark, and lonely and well...impossible. That is why the Lord tells us to take no thought for tomorrow for sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. So true. I also know that the Lord loves taking what seems impossible to me and bringing it to pass in such a way that leaves me in awe of His glory, so in that lies my hope. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, so my faith is not in vain...and I take hope in the promise of the things unseen. Praise God for that.
So Lord Jesus if this is the way in which you have willed for me to be drawn in closer to You, then I count it but a privilege to endure such afflictions. I pray that you will bring comfort to me during this time, though, so that I may know for certainty the path in which you are leading me. Comfort me in a way that no worldly possession or promise can comfort me, and help me to long after the true peace that is found in you, instead of settling for the fake peace that is offered by the world that leaves only emptiness. Help me to be guided by Your Spirit so that I do not grieve You, and please rid me of any worldly sorrow that is blinding me and keeping me in bondage to the carnal affections. I pray for all my brothers and sisters out there that are experiencing similar afflictions. Please comfort your people during their times of uncertainty and open up their eyes to your will so that they may take great pleasure in it. Thank you for your Grace, Father, for without it I would not last a second in this world. It is amazing how you can bring me from a feeling of despair to hope in just a twinkling of an eye, and thank you for your precious word: I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety. (Psalms 4:8 )