Friday, June 10, 2011

Happily Ever After

Nobody likes to suffer. And yet, it seems that suffering is a very fine way to get to know God. Is it because He too, suffered?

"It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." Psalm 119:71. Good to be afflicted??? Good to be sick? Good to hurt and suffer?
I guess the answer depends on who you ask, but the word of God is clear on the topic.
Time and time again in the Bible, we find that through suffering, there is growth and recognition of God's sovereignty.

And if you are human, you have faced your share of hard times, illnesses, losses, and sufferings. For me, it has mostly come through marriage. I know some of you may think it harsh for me to say, but God knows.... that the most trying times in my life have come during my marriage and because of my marriage.

This morning my husband leaned over and said, "I love you very much. You inspire me so many times", while I responded with a half asleep..."Inspired you to do what? Run away?" He laughed.... (no comment)

You gotta keep your perspective and see things for what they truly are.... a good and lasting marriage does not come with a "free pass".... although we sometimes wish it did.

The hardest times came in our early years. Newbies... and yet, it's amazing that we outlasted the first 5 years of marriage.

I remember the words I prayed one night, not that long ago when my husband and I contemplated a separation. "Lord, you know he doesn't feel able to love me right now... he can't do it with his own strength, so will you please love me through him?" You love me Lord.... and enable him...

Strange right?... that one would have to pray to God to help his or her spouse to love...

Yet, sometimes that is what it takes.

And it's not like God feels sorry for us because we have to endure hard times. He uses those times to draw us to Him. And isn't that the sole purpose of our being? To draw closer to our creator and acknowledge that we are nothing without him.

And I've learned many things during these, soon to be, 20 years of marriage. The greatest lesson and most difficult to learn is that God much more prefers for me to become holy than happy. Yes, you read right, and I will reword it.
You see, God is more concerned about me being holy than He is about me having a happy life and marriage.
Don't get me wrong. God's blessings bring about happiness, and He longs to bless us richly. However and more importantly, He also wants us to live holy lives, regardless of whether that means we lose what we most treasure.

Like many newlywed wives, I envisioned the "happily ever after life". I treasured my husband to an extreme. I had him on a pedestal, figuratively speaking, until our marriage collapsed and I saw my husband from a new light. And I didn't like it one bit. I suffered for a long time. We both did.

And yet, through the hardships, God has never left our side. He has never turned on us. He has never forsaken us. And He has always been faithful to see us through. Faithful... although we weren't.

Do you begin to see how God makes us holy through suffering? You see, had I not suffered, I would never had learned about the character of a loving God. And about what He requires of me. I would never have learned what it is to obey God and take Him at His word. To believe, when nothing seems right. To trust, although the world seems turned upside down. To walk with Him, although I want to run away. To love Him, even when there's pain.
And all of these things combined...lead to holiness.
It doesn't mean that we can't be happy, but rather that it is more important to be holy.
You see being happy doesn't always bring about holiness, but becoming holy will always bring happiness in the end.

Hebrews 12: 10b-11, "...but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

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