Monday, April 8, 2013

To Know Christ in His Sufferings

Spring is in the air. The month of April has brought with it rain showers and even several bursts of snow, but we refuse to let go of the hope of green grass and sunshine. Grace has been so happy to finally be able to get out and ride Sassy again. Jumping is her sport of choice for this year. Not so sure it's mom's sport of choice, but the smile that never leaves her face while she's riding is worth the fear of her falling off.

Sassy continues to give her a run for her money, definitely living up to her equine name, but it's a good challenge. Two stubborn, feisty girls battling it out for who's going to be in charge. At the end of the ride they're both happy, one with grain the other sore muscles. Born fighters wouldn't be happy without a fight.

Grace got her hair cut. She hasn't had it this short since she was three years old and took a scissor to it herself. She's been begging for the transformation, and was thrilled to donate the cut portion to Locks of Love, happy knowing that somebody else would benefit from her beautiful gift. She's turned into a different girl in so many ways.

Horses are one of the harder parts of grief. There is only so much emotion and strength to go around, and some things are just too hard to revisit for the extra energy it takes to live them without your loved one. Too many memories to relive, and too hard to make new ones with the same horses minus one kid. Grace informed me that I haven't rode with her for over a year. So much is lost in grief, more than just your child who is gone, the ones here suffer for it as well.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. Philippians 3:10a

The words finally made some sense when I read again them last night. I always wondered, who would want to suffer to know Jesus? It is such of a backward way of thinking in our society of ease and pleasure. But the verse has haunted my thoughts for years, moreso of course since Trent's accident. To want to know Christ in His sufferings.

Then it struck me as I read it for the hundredth time: Without suffering we wouldn't know Jesus to the same degree as without it.

Poor Rob happened to walk in during the middle of my revelation. I sputtered at him, "You know how it was when we met Amos and Sue, and we didn't have to explain to them what it was like to lose a child to death on a ski slope? Do you remember that instant connection, regardless that we lived worlds apart? Remember the knowing, on both sides, without explaining to them what that suffering felt like?"

Yep. He knew.

That's what Paul means: to know Jesus in his suffering is like knowing Amos and Sue, or the many others parents we know who have lost a child. You don't have to explain what it feels like to receive that dreaded call, or to walk into an emergency room and see your child's dead body lying there, or how to choose what color of casket you want for the funeral. They know. They just know.

You don't have to explain tears for over two years straight. Or why you haven't answered the phone in two days. Or why riding horse might be hard. They just know.

To know Christ in His suffering is to know Christ. You can almost feel the whip He felt, and feel the shame He endured for trusting God. You know the tears He cried, and the hope He had. On some level, you set your face as flint towards eternity and the waiting glory just as He did. You begin to live as He lived, not for this world but the next, not for joy found here, but for the treasure found there.

And when you realize that it is all filtered through a Sovereign Father's hand you can even rejoice in it. The participation becomes an honor, just like it is an honor to wrap your arms around a newly grieving mother and try to point her to Christ. To repeat the promises to both her and yourself, willing you both to hold on and not lose hope. Looking forward to what's ahead, not looking behind, but trudging through the deep waters that God wants you to walk.

To know somebody in the trenches of suffering is to truly know them. There is no room for fake, no reason to talk about the weather, no Sunday smiles. There is only full exposure of the heart in sorrow. God is the searcher of hearts. He reveals through suffering, both our hearts and Himself. What a joy, then, to be sought out. What a joy to experience His grace. He disciplines those He loves. He wakes those up whom He loves.

Therefor, it is easier to say it again:

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings. Philippians 3:10a

Why? Because I know there is much more beyond the pain of today.

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21