Philippians 2:14-18 “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.”
James 1:2-4 “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
The verses above from Philippians were written by St. Paul while he was in prison. As he suffered, he rejoiced! And he encourages us to do the same. St. James says to consider trials joy! Joy?! I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly difficult to suffer well. I always try my best to be a cheerful and positive person, and I generally am. But when the real tests of life happen (when baby has a poop explosion right before leaving the house, cold and flu season, sub-zero weather, driving behind slow people — you know, the little annoyances that add up and add up), that’s when the grumble starts to rumble. If I’m not careful and mindfully filtering my thoughts through Jesus, I soon see the grumble pour out of me, rather than me pouring out to suffer well and serve others. Whether in deed or by example.
This life is not intended to be smooth and easy. It’s a grueling journey. And a lot of us have a steeeeeeeeeep mountain to climb before we reach Glory. The question is, are we using our time on this journey wisely? Rather than embracing the lessons before us, do we kick and fight like a stubborn donkey? Or are we humble and trusting with our master?
I want to be steadfast. I want to be a person who my kids and future grandkids can look back on and feel inspired by. The legacies we leave behind count on how we endure the trials right now. Today.
As great as it would feel to let off some steam on that really bad driver in the safety of your enclosed car… There might be some little ears listening and learning how to live out patience and love. As great as it would be to complain about your back problems for the fiftieth time to your co-worker, maybe it would be better to offer up the suffering in silence and ask about their life first. Try wearing a different lens as you suffer. Instead of dwelling on how much you hate this thing or that, think about how that uncomfortable or difficult thing could be a tool God is using to make you a brighter Child of the Light.
Suffer well through these last couple weeks of lent. You can DO IT!!
Take a Victory and a Blessing, my friend!