I took some time yesterday to go to our church website (heartlandvineyard.org), clicked on the YouTube icon, and listened to Nicki Reeves teach on “Sharing in the sufferings of Christ.” We have been teaching from Romans 8 and zeroing in on the idea of being adopted into Sonship and Daughterhood. The following is the passage of scripture we have been focused on in understanding our place as sons and daughters of God through the work of the Cross, resurrection and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:14-17 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
I was touched by Nicki openly sharing the loss of their baby due to a genetic disorder. It takes courage to share with people at that level of transparency. I remember when baby Zeke was born and shortly thereafter, he died. I knew Chris, Nicki and their family were in deep pain over that loss. I was encouraged to hear Nicki ask a profound question, “What if pain could be an avenue to a closer and more intimate relationship with God?”
Steve Brown in his book, Scandalous Freedom writes: “Pain is not something most people like. That is why we run from it as fast as we can. That is also why we aren’t free. Jesus hardly ever goes to those places where we run. When pain comes (or when we fear that it will come), don’t run away. Run to it, and you will find you have run into the arms of Jesus…Then you will laugh and dance in the freedom and the reality of God’s sufficiency and the power that becomes awesome in your weakness.”
Tullian Tchividjian in his very insightful book, Glorious Ruin, How suffering Sets You Free says: “God is more concerned with our knowing Him than He is in our half-hearted pleasures of comfort, ambition, and success. So much so that He often allows pain and suffering into our lives to clear the clutter of mute, deaf, and unworthy idols that can never deliver on their promises, even when they’re ostensibly good things like health, family, career, success, and status.”
In my sixty-two years of life, I have found that I am always in one of three situations. I am either coming out of a season of testing and pain, I am getting ready to go into a season of testing and pain or I am in the midst of a season of testing and pain. That sounds fatalistic but the fact is, if we cry, “Abba! Father!” and look to our Heavenly Dad for comfort, courage and strength, we are brought into an ever growing closeness to our God who loves us more than our minds can comprehend.
When we are in pain, do as the beautiful gospel song says, “Give me Jesus!”