Before I left for Moscow, my dear Grandma challenged me to read “Hind’s Feet on High Places” along with her, so we could share the experience across the ocean. She sent me a copy of that book 18 years ago, when I was first diagnosed with MS, and I only once tried to read it.
I told her I would read it while here, though what I did not tell her was that my cognitive thinking had been so hammered by MS that I had not enjoyed reading for pleasure in well over a decade. I brought the book along, because she’s a tough Granny and I’m a dutiful grandkid, but I was not certain it would happen.
Would you believe that I actually read the whole book? And with much pleasure, I must add. I could write this whole post about how I have marveled at the healing my brain has received in just this short time and how I have now read two books and am beginning a third, but I want to talk about a small point I took from my Grandma’s selection that revealed to me a place where my heart has also been healed.
I won’t labor you with a review of the book, though you should read it if you haven’t, but the point that struck me the most was just how very important suffering is to the journey of becoming more Christ like. Suffering is key to becoming more like Him and so many times we want to “bind it up in Jesus name” and walk away from it. But what if binding the suffering is the wrong choice and rather, we should sit in it for a moment and learn to rejoice regardless?
Learning to rejoice through suffering has been the biggest blessing that MS gave me. I fought it, I hated it, I wanted it gone. But when it became clear that MS was here to stay for a bit, I learned to rejoice at God’s rich mercy along the journey. He strengthened my spirit and stretched me in ways I never would have been stretched had He removed this thorn too soon from my flesh.
I have many good friends who feel that it is important to be what they feel is honest about their feelings when going through trials. This “honesty” is a cleverly cloaked way of saying, “I am miserable and I have chosen to not allow God any room to deal with me here.” And then those friends get stuck in a spiral of pity, anger, bitterness, and sadness which takes them oceans away from where rejoicing could have taken them.
Rejoicing in agony does not remove the agony, it reframes the agony. MS is not the only blow I have been dealt. Many of you know that I lost my much beloved brother nine years ago. That, friends, is a thorn which will never be removed. But I rejoice. I rejoice, even as I weep, because God saved his soul and he waits for me. I rejoice because WE HAVE A GOD WHO SAVES SOULS. I rejoice. I have been dealt many blows, which I leave off this blog so as not to drag the sins of others into the light, but you should know that I speak from a heart that has known agony and still, I will rejoice.
There is a time for weeping, and there is a time for stopping to repair what is broken, but friends, please hear me when I beg of you to also rejoice. This world and all of its crumminess needs to know that there is something bigger and greater out there than the discomfort we see every day. This world may stink, but Jesus doesn’t! Rejoice!