Sometimes God makes us struggle for a long time before giving the understanding as to why. Sometimes the understanding never comes and we just have to figure out life without it. Other times the struggle and the understanding come together. I like those times.
I have a mixture of both these days. There are sufferings so old I’ve long given up hope of seeing resolution on this earth, and then there are shorter frustrations that turn around pretty quickly.
Like today, the internet went down at work just as two groups of customers walked in. “Perfect…just my luck”, I thought. I made the first set of drinks hoping the internet was just experiencing a glitch and would come back on so I could take their credit card payment. No such luck. I took the second set of orders and apologized that it was taking so long. When I explained that my internet was down, one of the men in the second group said it was okay, that he could pay with cash. He then offered (or rather insisted) on paying for the first set of customers in cash as well.
This sparked a short conversation about currency, during which a lady walked in and got in line. She paid for her drink in cash, but then decided to add something else to her order. The second group of customers had left (the ones who paid for the first group’s order) but the first group was still there. To pay it forward, they left cash to pay for the lady’s order before they left. She wasn’t aware of what had happened, so I explained it to her. She was so touched by the gesture, she left $5 to pay for whoever came in next. That $5 is now sitting under my register waiting for the next customer who walks in.
As luck would have it, my internet returned right after the whole group left and now I’m standing here wrapping my heart around it all. My very first thought when the internet went down was “great, of course this would happen to me…”. But now, not 30 minutes later, at least two people were blessed because of it…something that never would have happened if I was able to take that first payment.
I wish all frustrations in life were so quickly resolved. But God is also showing me tiny glimpses into the long-sufferings that have plagued my life for, well, all my life. Least of which being the torments and traumas that have so mangled my inner being. The evils of this world bother me more than most, I think. Probably because I have lived my entire life on the losing side of them…a fact I’ve been giving God my what-fors about lately.
Today He showed me something, though. He gave me a glimpse into the inner-beings of the so-called “winners”. You know, the ones who always seem to have life work out for them, get what they want, somehow always get others to give them things/serve them, etc. He showed me inside the ones who don’t have the slightest idea what struggle and suffering really is…and it was not pretty. In fact, it was so ugly it turned my stomach and changed my mind around from “why me?” to “thank you, Lord.”
He showed me that there is a choice between an easy life with a sick, petrifying soul or a difficult, suffering-filled life with a purified one. Each soul can either submit to the purification process, which means submitting to suffering, or they can reject it..in which case Satan is right there, dressed like an angel, waving a “This way to the easy life!” sign. And most people follow that sign…that road is wide, after all.
But given what He showed me, I’m happy choosing the difficult life. Injustice bothers me more than anything in the world, and that’s not likely to change. But God showed me something – that those who have it so easy never make it to the mountaintops of God’s presence. Why? They never develop the legs for it. So many people sell their spiritual heritage for ease and for comfort. They get winded and turn back to their comfy chairs and baby bottles at every inconvenience…how could they ever survive the storm that is our Lord’s presence? And it is a storm.
So I stand here again and thank God, even for the sufferings I don’t understand. Why? Because I know it is producing in me a strength that will one day be able to withstand the all-consuming fire that is our God. Our perfect, omnipotent, fire of a God. And on that day I know that I will bow at His feet having accepted the sufferings from his hand (not always gracefully, but accepted nonetheless). And I’d rather do so as a weather-beaten warrior than a whiney little baby.
So thank you God, even for the sufferings I don’t understand. Because I know that in you, no suffering is wasted. Give me grace to trust you more, and more than anything….come. Lord Jesus, come.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18