Breast-feeding was painful. It was hard. Every time my daughter would try and latch on tears of pain would flood down my cheeks. Parts of me were bleeding and getting infected that I never thought was possible. I had sores that would tear every 3-4 hours as my baby girl fed unaware of my grinding teeth and cringing toes. Barrett told me I could quit but the echoes of words from other mom’s would ring in my ears. Their faces would be contorted in remembered pain as they told me it would get better. I didn’t understand why God created this good gift of life giving nutrients to be so hard…or impossible for some. Yet the promise that this suffering would end gave me the steadfastness and endurance to continue…even in the tears.
You may not be able to relate to this example, but I know, sweet sister, that you have your own example of a trial or dark time where someone desires to comfort you with words that it will end. Maybe when you hear the word “cancer”, or you are so depressed you can’t get out of bed. Perhaps singleness is your struggle or your distant spouse. Do you face your plight with patience? Are you willing to accept or tolerate a delay to the end of your suffering without getting angry or upset? When your comforters come to help you look past the struggle to a hope of a future ending…or simply to remind you of being with Jesus in heaven forever…how do you respond? Do you grind your teeth and cringe your toes to press on or do you give up all hope?
We serve a God who defines longsuffering and patience. His creation chose independence shortly after He gave them paradise, yet instead of striking them dead at that moment, He had a plan that would save them forever. He gave them a sacrificial system, which filled all their senses of the cost of their sin. They would touch it as they brought their sheep to the temple, hear it in the screams of the sheep being led to slaughter, smell it as flesh burned, and see it as the smoke rose upward. This delayed His wrath toward His people for thousands of years until in the fullness of time, He sent His son to be the final sacrifice. He would be the perfect, sinless sacrifice that ended all sacrifice. God was patient with His wrath only to put it all on His own son for our gain. And now the Son sits at the right hand of the Father patiently waiting to come back one last time, to redeem all His people for all eternity. The Father knows the right time again. Yet, He patiently waits for the gospel to be told to all people, tribes, and nations. He hears the screams of the persecuted and welcomes them home with open arms. His heart breaks as the curse continues to take His image bearers with disease, famine, war, terror, and accidents. Yet His plan is perfect and He is patient to the end.
Oh, how I long to set my hope in the truth of this good news! That my pain here on earth will end, if not in a certain season, then at my resurrection. That I can suffer long because my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. That my anger at my circumstance will be squashed in the fact that my God knows, sees, and hears my pleas and His plan is good. Oh God! Give me this patience to endure my trial! And thank you for forgiving me when my eyes leave you and dwell on my short-term suffering. Give me friends that will encourage me to endure, despite the pain. And please, make me that friend too.
Your Sister in Christ,