Do you live with chronic pain? Perhaps you have a child who has strayed from the Lord. Or maybe you are looking at that mortgage payment that is now at three months past due and there are no clients for your commission-only husband. When does suffering move from visiting us as a result of our mistakes, to visiting us because it’s God’s gift?
Born with Cerebral Palsy, my precious husband has a saying, often repeated in our home.
“Adversity is my tutor”.
Why is it that we tend to be more in tune to God’s voice when we are facing storms rather than when the sun is shining?
The Israelites were more than happy to follow Moses out of Egypt, their place of bondage and suffering, when the Lord delivered them. However, after 3 days of travel, with no fresh water or food in sight, the people began to grumble.
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Then he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.
There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer.”
I have a friend, one of the godliest women I have ever met, who, like my husband, carries a daily cross of suffering. Her name is Melana (Hunt) Monroe. She is daughter of Prayer Titan, and author of the classic book, The Mind of Christ, T.W. Hunt. Her father passed away in 2014 leaving a legacy of prayer and faith behind him. Currently, God is writing a powerful story of faith and courage through the Monroe family as they face unbelievable challenges. In a nutshell, thanks to technological advances, four of her six adult children have been diagnosed with a gene which causes stomach cancer. Each one must have their stomachs surgically removed in order to save their lives and drastically increase their odds for living a long healthy life. Melana, like her father, is a prayer warrior for her children and the spiritual fruit in her life is transformative. I have had the special honor of sitting under her teaching and watching how these trials have given her unbelievable spiritual vision and focus. Her youngest daughter, Chesney, recently shared a quote by theologian John Calvin in her blog post https://livingstomachless.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/through-pain-comes-joy/
“You must submit to supreme suffering in order to discover the completion of joy.”
Melana’s prayer life models for me what sowing while suffering looks like. As another daughter, Katie, faces an upcoming surgery, Melana lives on her knees, praying through every detail. God is using the faith legacy of her father, to teach others how to sow with vision, even during times of suffering.
As Moses threw the tree God showed him, into the bitter waters of Marah and the waters became sweet, I pray that the Lord will show me how to reach out in faith for the tree of life, praying and believing…even during times of suffering.