emotionally whipped



"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (I Peter 4:12-14)

When I was younger, I understood the Passion of Christ in physical terms. I thought about the beatings and having nails put into flesh. I wondered how much Jesus' body must have hurt.

But the older I get, the more vividly I think about the internal pain Jesus might have faced before He was put upon the cross. There were many ways the Father could have orchestrated the death of Christ. Why did He allow emotional torment to be a part of a physical death?

From what I understand, the New Testament seems to indicate that Christians are still completing the sufferings of Christ (Colossians 1:24). If we are going to suffer like Him, will that include some of His emotional sufferings as well?

If so, I wonder if mapping out some distinct emotional sufferings that Jesus might have faced will help me brace for the challenges ahead?

As I was reading John 18 this morning, I found a few possibilities. If anyone finds some others, I'd love to hear about them as well.

Some difficulties Jesus faced:

1.) The direct betrayal of someone in whom you've invested great time and love. (Judas)

2.) The failure of a close friend to stand up for you when you're being falsely accused. (Peter)

3.) Someone deciding to believe the worst about your character and regarding you with suspicion, even when you have repeatedly responded with integrity and humility. (The High Priest)

4.) Spiritual leaders persecuting you as you try to serve God instead of supporting you. (Religious leaders)

5.) Passivity on the part of someone who knows the truth, who is in a position to help, and who should come to your aid. (Pilate)

6.) The predetermination of fault, even in the face of innocence. (The crowd)

7.) The refusal of others to recognize or respect the role to which God has called you. (All)

As I read through these seven types of pain, and as I think back through times when I have experienced some of them, I have to admit that I've not handled them well. I have doubted God for allowing seasons of blatant injustice. I have cried out in frustration that God seemed to just ignore the abuse.

Maybe that's why it is so comforting for me now to realize that being misunderstood, misrepresented, betrayed, attacked, alone... these aren't signs of God's absence or rejection. These are the very same sufferings my Lord experienced. So maybe it is an honor to share in this type of pain... to walk in His steps. Maybe I can get to know Him better as I go there with Him.

This is something I am learning very slowly, and with wobbly knees. The reality of it comes and it goes, because I don't like pain and my faith is so small. Suffering hurts. And I want to run from it.

But I wanted to at least share what I'm starting to learn, in case any of you are facing some of these hurts as well. This sort of abuse can produce such lonely, scary feelings.

I don't think we need to feel surprised by unfair times. Suffering doesn't mean something strange is happening to you. It doesn't mean God has abandoned you. You might even ask for strength to rejoice, because maybe you are being given this opportunity to share in the passion of your Savior. When His glory is revealed, every unfairness and insult will turn into blessings. And until then, the Spirit of God rests within you. What beautiful company.


"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (I Peter 4:12-14)


THREE MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS AFTER TALKING WITH A GOOD FRIEND ABOUT THIS:

1.) "The Gospel shines brightly when we respond in such a way. No one is capable in human strength to do this." (Celeste Rutledge).

This matters to me because I often get stuck just in "knowing" and "trying." But I need God's empowerment to truly rejoice, because that's so counter-intuitive when I am hurting.

2.) The impact of insecurity

Sometimes I doubt that I am really sharing in Christ's sufferings because of insecurity. I try to handle injustice as something less significant than it is, because I don't feel like I would be important/good enough to really suffer for Christ.

3.) The impact of being married

If your husband is being persecuted, you will probably feel the results too. Your whole family will. As as a wife, it can be tempting to see our spouse's suffering as something less spiritually significant than it is. What if your husband is being mistreated for God's glory? What would it mean to trust a husband's leadership and rejoice that we are invited to suffer with him? What results happen when we blame him instead, and add to the pain?

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About This Blog

Welcome to our family’s adoption journey. As you read, you will see us stumble and take wrong paths. You will see our hopes surge and fall. You will see the gaps in our humanity, and how our God realigns us to His purposes over and again. We think the messiness of this process is important. Sometimes walking with God isn’t a neat, linear package that can be summarized in bullet points. More often, life ebbs and flows around our plans, while God works His sovereign wonders from it all. We are learning so much through this journey. And we are super excited about our new son. If you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you along for the ride.

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