The Surprise of Suffering

Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through,as if something strange were happening to you. 1 Peter 4:12 NLT

Well, surprised is an understatement when it comes to what we all experienced in our family when our then 20 year old son was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  Our Jeremy had always been athletic, healthy, happy, strong! How could this be happening to him? us?

And as every mom, I began the usual Examining of the Mom Conscience:

How did I not protect him from this? I've been doing more than most in keeping our environment clean of toxic chemicals.

I should have been more perfect with our food.

Have I delved too deeply into alternative medicine?  Punishment?

And on and infinitum, ad nauseum... To the point of agony.

Then the precious words of our Lord,

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT

In Him, peace...on earth, trials and sorrows.

So the question is not Why me, why my son? but rather why NOT me, why not my son?

Over the succeeding months, as we walked out that terrible/glorious year, the Lord reminded me of what He had said through the apostle Paul,

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24 We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. 25 But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)

26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. 29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters... Romans 8:18-27 NLT

Did you notice all the groanings?  That's right, all creation, we believers (actually all humans also), and hold on...the HOLY SPIRIT...Eternal God, indwelling us, praying for us and in us according to the will of God...deep, deep! Oh glory!  What comfort!  Why?

Our situation is not a surprise to our indwelling God.  In fact, the Son of God entered our groaning world and became a Groaning One along with us, so...

Our suffering is not a surprise to HIM...listen to His groaning the night before He died:

While he lived on earth, anticipating death, Jesus cried out in pain and wept in sorrow as he offered up priestly prayers to God. Because he honored God, God answered him. Though he was God’s Son, he learned trusting-obedience by what he suffered, just as we do. Then, having arrived at the full stature of his maturity... he became the source of eternal salvation to all who believingly obey him. Hebrews 5:7-10 MSG

And so no matter what we are going through, our Jesus, through His indwelling Spirit, groans it out with us.  And because He is God Almighty, He can take hold of us (Hebrews 2:16) when we run to Him in our darkness of darkness.  He's been through it all:

Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help [run to the cry of] us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:17-18 NLT

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:15-16 NLT

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To read about Jeremy, 15 years cancer free in 2013 by the grace of God, click here.